Improvisation, Indeterminacy and Game-Mediated Participation in Network Music Performance

Pedro Rebelo, Felipe Copetti Hickmann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter focuses on the relationship between improvisation and indeterminacy. We discuss the two practices by referring to play theory and game studies and situate it in recent network music performance. We will develop a parallel with game theory in which indeterminacy is seen as a way of articulating situations where structural decisions are left to the discernment of the performers and discuss improvisation as a method of play. The improvisation-indeterminacy relationship is discussed in the context of network music performance, which employs digital networks in the exchange of data between performers and hence relies on topological structures with varying degrees of openness and flexibility. Artists such as Max Neuhaus and The League of Automatic Music Composers initiated the development of a multitude of practices and technologies exploring the network as an environment for music making. Even though the technologies behind “the network” have shifted dramatically since Neuhaus’ use of radio in the 1960’s, a preoccupation with distribution and sharing of artistic agency has remained at the centre of networked practices. Gollo Föllmer, after undertaking an extensive review of network music initiatives, produced a typology that comprises categories as diverse as remix lists, sound toys, real/virtual space installations and network performances. For Föllmer, “the term ‘Net music’ comprises all formal and stylistic kinds of music upon which the specifics of electronic networks leave considerable traces, whereby the electronic networks strongly influence the process of musical production, the musical aesthetic, or the way music is received” (2005: 185).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSoundweaving : writings on improvisation
EditorsFranziska Schroeder, Mícheál Ó hAodha
Place of PublicationNewcastle-Upon-Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars
ISBN (Print)9781443853446
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2014

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