Playing the Repertoire Game

in “Do You Know …?”

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780226239217
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226239224 | DOI:
Playing the Repertoire Game

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This book wanted to understand how musicians who work ordinary jobs in bars and at parties—in other words, jobs where they find that they have to play a variety of music, which they cannot always fully anticipate—can play together with little or no rehearsal, and with a minimum of written music to guide them. How could players create a performance since they could not rely on everyone knowing a shared repertoire? This chapter focused on the continuous process of mutual adjustment through which partial knowledge is shared on the fly and combined, step by step, to produce a performance that is good enough for the occasion and its participants. Like every other kind of activity people undertake together, what jazz musicians do is neither random and disjointed nor totally fixed and predictable. Because sociology is, after all, a generalizing business, what you learn in one place—what we learned about musicians—should, in principle and in fact, illuminate other areas of collective action, other places where people do things together.

Keywords: musicians; music; repertoire; mutual adjustment; knowledge; performance; collective action

Chapter.  5045 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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