Sync or Swarm: Musical Improvisation and the Complex Dynamics of Group Creativity

  • David Borgo
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4060)


This essay draws on participant observation, ethnographic interviews, phenomenological inquiry, and recent insights from the study of swarm intelligence and complex networks to illuminate the dynamics of collective musical improvisation. Throughout, it argues for a systems understanding of creativity—a view that takes seriously the notion that group creativity is not simply reducible to individual psychological processes—and it explores interconnections between the realm of musical performance, community activities, and pedagogical practices. Lastly, it offers some reflections on the ontology of art and on the role that music plays in human cognition and evolution, concluding that improvising music together allows participants and listeners to explore complex and emergent forms of social order.


Social Insect Swarm Intelligence Complex Adaptive System Group Flow Group Creativity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Borgo
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSan Diego, La JollaUSA

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