Creative practice in music takes place in a distributed and interactive manner embracing the activities of composers, performers and improvisers - despite the sharp division of labour between these roles that traditional concert culture often presents. Two distinctive features of contemporary music are the role of improvisation and the development of integrated and collaborative working practices between composers and performers. Prominent examples of such collaborations in the twentieth century have brought attention to a state of affairs that is actually much more widespread - indeed arguably the norm for much of the music of our own time. At the same time, improvisation - once relegated to the margins of musical practice - has found its way back into the concert music of the later twentieth and twenty-first centuries in a wide variety of forms, from the free improvisation of groups such as AMM, through the partially improvised practices that accompany the graphic scores of composers such as Cornelius Cardew, to the controlled improvisations that are embedded within the work of many contemporary composers. By blurring the distinction between composition and performance, improvisation and collaboration provide important perspectives on the distributed creative processes that play a central role in much contemporary music.
Distributed Creativity explores the different ways in which collaboration and improvisation enable and constrain these creative processes. Thirteen chapters and twelve shorter Interventions present a range of perspectives on distributed creativity in music, on composer/performer collaborations, and on contemporary improvisation practices. The chapters provide substantial discussions of a variety of conceptual frameworks and particular projects, while the Interventions present more informal contributions from a variety of practitioners (performers, composers, improvisers), giving insights into the pleasures and perils of working creatively in collaborative and improvised ways.