DS08 - Sociétés innovantes, intégrantes et adaptatives

Musical Improvisation and Collective Action – MICA

Submission summary

The goal of the MICA project is to look at collective action through the lens of musical improvisation, particularly in situations of so-called « free » improvisation. Whether in the case of a conversation amongst friends, brainstorming with colleagues at work, a football match, or taking political decisions, our social lives resemble collective improvisation in many respects. The social sciences have indeed referenced musical improvisation as a paradigm for understanding action, interaction, and emotions, but this analogy has rarely been taken seriously, despite its potential epistemological and heuristic implications. In order to fully benefit from the potential richness of such a comparison, we have to overcome the technical nature of music and fully take on theoretical and empirical analyses of collective action, thus combining musicological, psychological, and philosophical approaches in a single research program.
Our starting point will be four ethnographic studies which will give us in-depth insight into how operational modes of collective creation change when the conditions of coordination between actors vary. This ethnographic research will give us the foundation necessary to shed new light on experimental issues typically raised in experimental psychology and social cognition, thereby clarifying coordination modalities and functions in creative settings. In addition, we will be able to better understand certain fundamental aspects of dyadic interaction in the case of improvisation, by way of a series of experiments involving alternately musicians in a controlled studio environment and non-musicians improvising with the help of technological platforms for musical interaction. Lastly, we will compare the results of these studies with different philosophical theories of collective action. In this fashion, we will be able to propose a theory which fully accounts for the improvised dimension of collective action.
Through the documentation of one of the most dynamic artistic practices of today’s musical scene, MICA project will thus provide a major theoretical overhaul of current thinking on collective creativity, social cognition, and joint action.

Project coordination

Clément CANONNE (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/ Musique (IRCAM) - UMR STMS)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


IRCAM Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/ Musique (IRCAM) - UMR STMS

Help of the ANR 233,289 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2018 - 36 Months

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