Free improvisation

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Free improvisation or free music is improvised music without any rules beyond the taste or inclination of the musician(s) involved; in many cases the musicians make an active effort to avoid overt references to recognizable musical genres. The term is somewhat paradoxical, since it can be considered both as a technique (employed by any musician who wishes to disregard rigid genres and forms) and as a recognizable genre in its own right.

Free improvisation, as a style of music, developed in the U.S. and Europe in the mid and late 1960s, largely as an outgrowth of free jazz and modern classical musics. None of its exponents can be said to be famous amongst the general public; however, in experimental circles, a number of free musicians are well known, including saxophonists Evan Parker, Anthony Braxton and Peter Brötzmann, guitarist Derek Bailey, and the improvising group AMM.

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Characteristics

Although performers may choose to play in a certain style or key, or at a certain tempo, conventional songs are highly uncommon in free improvisation; more emphasis is generally placed on mood, texture or more simply, on performative gesture than on preset forms of melody, harmony or rhythm. These elements are improvised at will, as the music progresses.

Guitarist Derek Bailey proposed "non-idiomatic improvisation" as a more accurately descriptive term, claiming the form offers musicians more possibilities "per cubic second" than any genre [1]; while guitarist Elliott Sharp (himself occasionally active in free improvisation) has argued—partly tongue in cheek—that no improvisation is ever truly free, excepting the unlikelihood of amnesiac improvising musicians.[1][citation needed] Interestingly, John Eyles notes that Bailey has been quoted as saying that free improvisation is “playing without memory”.[2]

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