One piece of advice I find myself frequently giving to musicians in group improvising
situations is not to focus on what they can do at any given moment — either with their
personal musical technique or beholden to their personal ego — but instead to focus
on what the music needs, what the music wants. In other words, rather than focus on
their own playing, I ask them to “orchestrate” themselves into the composite ensemble
sound. I encourage them to hear themselves not only in the ensemble, but literally as
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University of California, San Diego. Faculty Member
DAVID BORGO is Professor of Music at UCSD. Throughout his career he has integrated creative work as an instrumentalist, improviser and composer with scholarly research focused on the social, cultural, historical and cognitive dimensions of music-making. His book, Sync or Swarm: Improvising Music in a Complex Age, looks through the lens of contemporary science to illuminate the process of improvising music and it explores the ability of improvisation to offer a visceral engagement with the emerging scientific notions of chaos and complexity. It was awarded the 2006 Alan Merriam Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology as the most distinguished book in the field published during the previous year. David's research also appears in Jazz Perspectives, Black Music Research Journal, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Parallax, Open Space, The Springer Handbook of Systematic Musicology, Soundweaving: Writings on Improvisation, Taking it to the Bridge: Music as Performance, Sound Musicianship: Understanding the Crafts of Music, and The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. As a saxophonist, David won first prize at the 1994 John Coltrane Festival, and since then he has released eight CDs and one DVD as a band leader. He currently performs electro-acoustic improvisation with his duo KaiBorg (kaiborg.com) and polymetric compositions with Kronomorfic (kronomorfic.com).less
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