The author defines free improvisation, a form of music-making that first emerged in the 1960s with U.K. composers and groups such as Cardew, Bailey, AMM and the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. The approach here considers free improvisation as creative activity, encompassing its artistic agenda on the one hand and the process-based dynamic of its production on the other. After considering the historical location of free improvisation within Western music history, the article explores free improvisation as analogous with Abstract Expressionist art. This comparison enables a fuller understanding of the activity's conceptual basis and the creative process it engenders.

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