LAWRENCE – University of Kansas faculty members Sherrie Tucker, American studies; Michelle Heffner Hayes, dance; Nicole Hodges Persley, theatre; Kip Haaheim, music; and outside collaborator Pauline Oliveros, Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, were awarded the 2012 Collaborative Research Seed Grant to study group musical improvisation and its role in forming sites of community among mixed-ability participants.
The group will use the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument, developed by Oliveros as a tool and musical instrument for improvisation. The instrument, which comes with computer software, adapts to all kinds of bodies and abilities. All users are equally able to participate in performing.
The celebration of difference runs against the grain of traditional ways of interpreting projects involving mixed-ability participants. The projects are usually automatically classified as being health-related or therapeutic, emphasizing "curing" a subject.
The team of researchers consists of interdisciplinary scholars in the emerging field of improvisation studies, which combines different kinds of creative improvisation with methods and theories from multiple disciplines, which encourages conversation and creativity.
By training groups of scholars and mixed-ability public communities in improvisational music-making using the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument, the team hopes to study embodiment and community-forming in a way that does not exclude nonverbal subjects: subjects whose motions are involuntary, or communities of difference.
The Collaborative Research Seed Grant supports the early stages of projects that capitalize on multiple forms of expertise to tackle the most methodologically and theoretically challenging questions faced by humanities scholars. KU's Research & Graduate Studies provides funding for the seed grant program.