The Improvisers Cookbook
: Mythologising the Social in Experimental Improvisation

  • Maria Donohue

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The Improvisers Cookbook presents a collection of contemporary experimental improvised practices developed during the COVID19 pandemic (2020-2022). Using newly developed interactive software (TIAALS) this research generated a novel approach (the ‘Mushwork’) which assisted in archiving and exploring the agency of an expanding community over a time of considerable social and creative change. The Improvisers Cookbook reflects a specific context and network of improvising players in order to ‘track the social process’, to uncover the agency of community in an emergent contemporary setting. This has been undertaken through an auto-sociological account that utilized practitioner social knowledge to investigate recent improvisational development. A thesis presented as non-linear and interactive which has iteratively been informed by the social and digitally enhanced practices of contemporary improvised practice.

Three themes of contemporary digital working practice have been identified. These are 1. newly developed relationships within cyber-spaces (furnishing), 2. expanded membership through cyber-communities (fashioning), and 3. myth making techniques that have emerged from human-machine relationships (fictioning). The increased use of technology for telematic music, digital curation, and hybrid digital/physical performance is challenging traditional aesthetics, demographics and narratives of experimental improvised practice. These pandemic creative practices have afforded critiques of existing dominant histories by centering and celebrating previously marginalized practices and lineages of the field. This is a cookbook of cultural, historical, temporal and fantastical recipes for creative living and activism.
Date of Award6 Jan 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMichael Clarke (Main Supervisor) & Robert Adlington (Co-Supervisor)

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