Constructions of jazz: how jazz musicians present their collaborative musical practice

Raymond A.R. MacDonald, Graeme B. Wilson

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41 Citations (Scopus)


he collaborative processes of jazz improvising are of considerable academic interest as a unique form of creativity. While recent work highlights the utility of interviewing practitioners with the aim of gaining an authoritative view, there is still a need for research to apprehend the gamut of what can be constituted as "jazz". A previous study has shown how understandings of the music arising in focus group interviews with jazz improvisers are shaped by the need to establish identities (MacDonald and Wilson, 2005; Wilson and MacDonald, 2005). This paper reports on a further series of semi-structured individual interviews with 10 (6 male and 4 female) professional UK jazz musicians on the theme of jazz and musical identity. Specifically, the interviews investigated the social and psychological implications of the collaborative nature of this music. Discursive analysis of the interview transcripts shows how understandings of the music were constructed in relation to identity positions for the speaker. Identity as a jazz musician was negotiated with other individual identities; the relationship between gendered identities and identity as a jazz musician is examined as an instance of how conflict between these identities may allow hegemonic influences to operate. These findings are discussed in relation to current debates in identity theory, and implications for music education.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMusicae Scientiae
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • musical collaboration
  • improvisation
  • jazz musicians
  • music psychology


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