What strategies are used in professional jazz guitar improvisation? This project finds that three main strategies are used by professional jazz guitarists; a basic coding strategy named chunking, an extended coding strategy based on context seen as schemas and an altered coding strategy based on skilled interaction in context, defined as templates. Chunking entails grouping small information units into chunks; these can then be combined into larger, hierarchically constructed systems and function as a mental “store” from which the performer retrieves material during improvisation. Chunk networks are triggered in the form of a schema, which is an abstract general mental representation of contextual knowledge.Templatesare large flexible schemas frequently used by experts.
The practice-led research strategy has allowed questions, problems and challenges to be initiated and worked on in fieldwork. The aim has been to investigate how jazz guitarists recall, integrate, organize and develop their knowledge in improvisation. The inquiry includes participant observation, playing with and interviewing five professional jazz guitarists in New York City. By examining the fieldwork a modal matrixfor analyzing structure, time and form in jazz guitar improvisation has been developed. The fieldwork studies have been supplemented by theoretical and contextual studies. The intention has been to bridge the gap between the roles as researcher and