- Book author
- David Borgo
The revised edition of Sync or Swarm promotes an ecological view of musicking, moving us from a subject-centered to a system-centered view of improvisation. It explores cycles of organismic self-regulation, cycles of sensorimotor coupling between organism and environment, and cycles of intersubjective interaction mediated via socio-technological networks. Chapters funnel outward, from the solo improviser (Evan Parker), to nonlinear group dynamics (Sam Rivers trio), to networks that comprise improvisational communities, to pedagogical dynamics that affect how individuals learn, completing the hermeneutic circle. Winner of the Society for Ethnomusicology's Alan Merriam prize in its first edition, the revised edition features new sections that highlight electro-acoustic and transcultural improvisation, and concomitant issues of human-machine interaction and postcolonial studies.
To all the musicians I have performed with and learned from. To all the teachers and guides who have shared their wisdom with me. To my many colleagues and students. To the helpful staff at Bloomsbury. To my friends, my family, my parents, my life partner, and our two boys. I am eternally grateful.
Portions of Chapter 2 appeared as “The Complex Dynamics of Improvisation,” in The Springer Handbook of Systematic Musicology, Springer International Publishing (2018). Portions of Chapter 3 appeared as “Strange Loops of Attention, Awareness, Affect, and Action in Musical Improvisation,” in Music and Consciousness II, ed. Ruth Herbert, Eric Clarke, and David Clark, Oxford University Press (2019). Portions of Chapter 4 appeared as “Rivers of Consciousness: The Nonlinear Dynamics of Free Jazz” (co-authored with Joseph Goguen) in Jazz Research Proceedings Yearbook (2005) and as “Strange Loops of Attention, Awareness, Affect, and Action in Musical Improvisation,” in Music and Consciousness 2: Worlds, Practices, Modalities, ed. Ruth Herbert, David Clarke, and Eric Clarke, Oxford University Press (2019a). Portions of Chapter 5 appeared as “Openness from Closure: The Puzzle of Interagency in Improvised Music and a Neo-Cybernetic Solution,” in Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound, and Subjectivity, ed. Gillian Siddall and Ellen Waterman, Duke University Press (2016). Portions of Chapter 6 appeared as “The Ghost in the Music,” in The Oxford Handbook on Critical Improvisation Studies, Vol. 1, ed. George Lewis and Ben Piekut, Oxford University Press (2016), and as “The Art of Improvisation in the Age of Computational Participation,” in The Routledge Companion to Jazz Studies, ed. Tony Whyton, Nicholas Gebhardt and Nicole T. Rustin, Routledge (2019). Portions of Chapter 7 appeared as “Embodied, Situated, and Distributed Musicianship,” in Sound Musicianship: Understanding the Crafts of Music, ed. Andrew Brown, Cambridge Scholars Publishing (2012), and as “Musicking on the Shores of Multiplicity and Complexity,” Parallax 13/4 (2007), 92–107.
Audio and video examples discussed in the book, as well as some not discussed, are available at Sync or Swarm.