The meaning of the blues: musical identities in talk about jazz

Graeme B. Wilson, Raymond A.R. MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies of the social processes of jazz and improvisation prioritize practitioners' views on the music and on being musicians. However, discursive psychological perspectives, rarely addressed in research on jazz creativity, suggest that such views represent social constructions particular to the context of an interview. Musical identity theory offers a means of addressing these constructive processes; talk between musicians could provide a better means of identifying them than individual interviews with a researcher. This paper therefore adopts a discursive approach to the analysis of accounts produced in the social context of focus group interviews with jazz musicians. We identify distinct interpretative repertoires in the data; structural features within the discourse show how these resources function to shape individual identities. The interaction of participants acts further to formulate group identity in response to the focus group context. These findings support arguments for discursive psychological approaches and the use of focus group approaches, in research on improvisation and the views of musical practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Research in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2005


  • musical identities
  • music pyschology


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