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Something in the Air: Journeys of Self-Actualization in Musical Improvisation

Author(s): Heidi Ahonen | Marc Houde

Journal: Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy
ISSN 1504-1611

Volume: 9;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2009;
Original page

The aim of this qualitative, abductive, and phenomenological inquiry was to develop categories based on participants' perceptions of their improvisation and listening experiences. As using improvised music in clinical music therapy is an important method, this study expanded the knowledge of and language needed to describe this very sensitive and insightful communication process. If there is something in the air—what is it and is it something significant? Research questions included: 1. What kind of process is experienced when one improvises with an unknown person in an unfamiliar musical style? 2. What is in the air during live interactive improvisation? 3. What are the links between processes of self-actualization and peak experiences introduced by Abraham Maslow (1968) and the experiences described by the participants regarding their live improvised/interactive musical processes? The data of this study consisted of two audio-taped improvisations, three interviews, and the written reflections of six participants who participated in interactive live improvisation sessions. Ferrara's method was adapted for the data collection and analysis. Research results are presented in the form of descriptive categories which give a clearer picture of what happens during the process of musical improvisation.
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