Opening up openings: Zooming in on improvisation in the Theatre of Home

Robert L. Burke, Maria Sappho, Ross Birrell, Raymond MacDonald, Tia DeNora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article presents a qualitative analysis of the opening section of an online improvisation session. The session, which was organized by the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, included an international group of musicians. It took place during the global COVID-19 pandemic where the participants were experiencing lockdown conditions. Phenomenological reflexive analysis and video elicitation techniques were utilized to develop a number of key themes related to the multimodal improvisation strategies identified as emergent in the session. The results highlight how technical, physical, and psychological constraints of online practice can facilitate new creative insights and approaches to improvisation. Particular emphasis is placed upon how an improvisation begins and the role of distributed and collaborative creativity within the overall process. The importance of the domestic environment, what we term The Theater of Home, is central to these new ideas, as is how particular scenarios/items function as psychological and creative boundary objects. The spontaneous multimodal integration of text, visual, and audio material within the domestic and virtual environment can be seen to support a new type of creative collaboration and one that draws out features of social improvisation.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Music
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • improvisation
  • online
  • Theatre of Home
  • starting improvisations
  • Creativity
  • analysis
  • ideas
  • collaboration

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