Musical Improvisation and the Academy


  • Jesse Stewart Carleton University


Academic interest in musical improvisation has increased signifcantly in recent years. This is evidenced not only by the increasing number of publications focused on improvisation, but also by the growing number of improvisers to have received academic appointments at major universities. In this essay, I examine the changing historical relationships between musical improvisation and the academy, as well as some of the implications of those relationships for both the academy and the feld of musical improvisation itself.

Author Biography

Jesse Stewart, Carleton University

Jesse Stewart, PhD is an award-winning improviser, composer, researcher, and educator dedicated to re-imagining the spaces between artistic and scholarly disciplines. He has performed and/or recorded with musicians including Hamid Drake, William Parker, Pauline Oliveros, Ernst Reijseger, Joe McPhee, Jandek, Michael Snow, Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, Dong-Won Kim, and many others. His music has been performed at festivals throughout Canada, Europe and the United States. His writings on music and art have appeared in such journals as American Music, Black Music Research Journal, Contemporary Music Review, and in numerous edited anthologies. He is a professor of music in Carleton University’s School for Studies in Art and Culture in Ottawa, Canada.