Improvisation, Creativity, and Consciousness

Jazz as Integral Template for Music, Education, and Society

By Edward W. Sarath

Subjects: Transpersonal Psychology, Psychology, Music, Education, Integral Theory
Series: SUNY series in Integral Theory
Paperback : 9781438447223, 487 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438447216, 487 pages, June 2013

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Part I. Creativity, Consciousness, and the Integral Vision
1. The AQAL Framework
2. Improvisation-driven Growth of Creativity and Consciousness
3. Meditation-driven Growth of Creativity and Consciousness
4. Integral Evolutionary Dynamic
Part II. Jazz: An Integral Reading
5. Jazz and the Academy
6. Invention: Improvisation and Composition as Contrasting Pathways to Transcendence
7. Interaction: a Systems View of the Improvisation Process
8. Individuation: An Integral View of Personal and Collective Style Evolution
9. Jazz: An Integral Reading
Part III. Change
10. The Music School of the Future
11. Paradigmatic Change and the Twenty-first-century Academy
12. Planet Earth Takes a Solo

Using insights from Integral Theory, describes how the improvisational methods of jazz can inform education and other fields.


Jazz, America's original art form, can be a catalyst for creative and spiritual development. With its unique emphasis on improvisation, jazz offers new paradigms for educational and societal change. In this provocative book, musician and educator Edward W. Sarath illuminates how jazz offers a continuum for transformation. Inspired by the long legacy of jazz innovators who have used meditation and related practices to bring the transcendent into their lives and work, Sarath sees a coming shift in consciousness, one essential to positive change. Both theoretical and practical, the book uses the emergent worldview known as Integral Theory to discuss the consciousness at the heart of jazz and the new models and perspectives it offers. On a more personal level, the author provides examples of his own involvement in educational reform. His design of the first curriculum at a mainstream educational institution to incorporate a significant meditation and consciousness studies component grounds a radical new vision.

Edward W. Sarath is Professor of Music and Director of the Program in Creativity and Consciousness Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Music Theory through Improvisation: A New Approach to Musicianship Training.