Improvising Toward Post-Abyssal Musics: The Difference Between Noise and Noise




Sorbara, Joseph

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University of Guelph


This thesis offers a model of the musical practice of free improvisation as a “noisification” process that effects a re-listening to modern Western music and a re-considering of the “abyssal” cultural assumptions embedded therein, then asks what it means to take that model seriously. Having produced Start Making Noises Now—a film investigating freely improvised musical community in Toronto in early 2012 through performances and interviews with local improvisers—the author now reads its stories in dialogue with writings on creative music and improvisation, cultural theory, sociology, pedagogy, and rights. The resulting conversation develops an understanding of free improvisation as occupying a critical pedagogical space within the dominating culture and argues for the dissolution of barriers to participation in freely improvised musical community in solidarity with its roots in the Freedom Struggle and with ongoing “semi-audible” systemic oppressions, for the benefit of the broader culture and of creative music itself.



improvisation, music, critical pedagogy, cultural studies, autoethnography, Toronto, jazz, free music, free improvisation, noise, disappearance, community, struggle, freedom, appropriation