The study of music as an act of communication, examining how musicians interact musically and creatively, provides us with a unique means of observing how we co-ordinate our behaviour, and thinking, with those around us. In particular, the assessment of skills that improvising jazz musicians employ to communicate musical ideas, and consequently to co-ordinate those ideas in a coherent musical structure, offers a rare insight into the fine grain of human interaction1. Such techniques have been employed by music therapists for many years as a successful medium for therapeutic interaction. The success of music therapy has led to an increasing interest in examining communication in musical terms. The intuitive co-ordination of psychological factors at this level is normally buried beneath layers of linguistic and social conditioning and conventions, but detailed objective observation of music and musical performances can bring them out for study.
Analysis of musical interaction using methods previously applied to motherinfant communication opens a new perspective in communications research. The technique involves methods that have led to the discovery that infants can precisely co-ordinate their responses to the intuitive expressive patterns produced by their mothers. In this article the infants behaviour in communication offers one example of the generative power of communicative musicality; the improvising jazz musician is the other.
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