Contribution Towards an Ethics of Listening: An Improvising Musician’s Perspective

Simon Waters


The practice of “free-improvised” music would seem to present a privileged site for the study of contingent relations: a world in which individuals dynamically adapt within a network of conduct which constitutes its own meaningfulness; in which sound and touch seem co-extensive. This would seem to be an ideal context for the discovery of empathic and ethical behavior. It is argued here, however, that “doing” empathy is in itself improvisatory, and that improvising can thus be placed centre-stage as an essential adapting and organizing skill, rather than a peripheral or abstruse “aesthetic” conduct.


Improvisation; Empathy; Tactility; Free-Improvised Music

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Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation is generously supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (through both its Major Collaborative Research Initiatives and Aid to Scholarly Journals programs) and by the University of Guelph Library.
ISSN: 1712-0624