The Field of Musical Improvisation


  • Marcel Cobussen Leiden University (the Netherlands) and the Orpheus Institute in Ghent
  • Henrik Frisk
  • Bart Weijland



In this essay the first initiatives are presented to come to a new theoretical approach of musical improvisation. The main idea is to regard musical improvisation as a nonlinear dynamical system in which various (f)actors interact and connect in complex ways. In other words, the Field of Musical Improvisation (FMI) has no stable or strict identity.

Author Biographies

Marcel Cobussen, Leiden University (the Netherlands) and the Orpheus Institute in Ghent

Marcel Cobussen is the author of the texts. He studied jazz piano at the Conservatory of Rotterdam and Art and Cultural Studies at Erasmus University, Rotterdam and currently teaches music philosophy and cultural theory at Leiden University (the Netherlands) and the Orpheus Institute in Ghent (Belgium). Cobussen is author of the book Thresholds. Rethinking Spirituality Through Music (Ashgate, 2008), and co-author of Dionysos danst weer. Essays over hedendaagse muziekbeleving (Kok Agora, 1996). He is contributing editor of two special issues of the Dutch Journal of Music Theory, one on music and ethics (AUP, 2002) and one on artistic research (AUP, 2007), and he edited a special issue of New Sound on improvisation (Belgrade, 2008). His Ph.D. dissertation Deconstruction in Music (2002) was presented as an online website located at

Henrik Frisk

Henrik Frisk is the Sweden-based deviser and constructor of the sounds that accompany this essay; he is the ‘worker in intensities, frequencies, and rhythms.’ Frisk is an active performer (on saxophones and laptop) of improvised and contemporary music and a composer of acoustic and computer music in Sweden and abroad. With a special interest in interactivity, most of the projects he engages in explore interactivity in one way or another. Although his education from the Rhythmic Conservatory in Copenhagen (Denmark) is in music, he also works on software development within the framework of his artistic practice. His artistic Ph.D. dissertation Improvisation, Computers, and Interaction was presented at Lund University/Malmö Academy of Music in October 2008.

Bart Weijland

Bart Weijland is responsible for the web-integration. He has a passion for real-time and one-place information; that is why the Internet is his favorite playground. All information is its own center-point, but also a minor satellite of everything that is linked to it. Weijland studied journalism and social geography at Utrecht University (the Netherlands). He is currently based in Marseille (France) and works as a web-developer with a commercial organization in the same city specializing in creating and maintaining websites.




How to Cite

Cobussen, M., Frisk, H., & Weijland, B. (2010). The Field of Musical Improvisation. Konturen, 2(1), 168–185.