Contingent Encounters

Improvisation in Music and Everyday Life
Dan DiPiero
Investigates the relationship between improvisation in music and in everyday life
This title is open access and free to read on the web A free online version is forthcoming


Contingent Encounters offers a sustained comparative study of improvisation as it appears between music and everyday life. Drawing on work in musicology, cultural studies, and critical improvisation studies, as well as his own performing experience, Dan DiPiero argues that comparing improvisation across domains calls into question how improvisation is typically recognized. By comparing the music of Eric Dolphy, Norwegian free improvisers, Mr. K, and the Ingrid Laubrock/Kris Davis duo with improvised activities in everyday life (such as walking, baking, working, and listening), DiPiero concludes that improvisation appears as a function of any encounter between subjects, objects, and environments. Bringing contingency into conversation with the utopian strain of critical improvisation studies, DiPiero shows how particular social investments cause improvisation to be associated with relative freedom, risk-taking, and unpredictability in both scholarship and public discourse. Taking seriously the claim that improvisation is the same thing as living, Contingent Encounters overturns longstanding assumptions about the aesthetic and political implications of this notoriously slippery term.
Dan DiPiero is Lecturer of Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University and an Adjunct Professor of Music History at Capital University.

Praise / Awards

  • “Dan DiPiero molds a convincing narrative and provides the theoretical groundwork for future studies of improvisation. This is a bold undertaking that melds two worlds (the musical and the social) often segregated in scholarship.”
    —David Arditi, University of Texas at Arlington

News, Reviews, Interviews

Read: A conversation with CalArts on Contingent Encounters | 11/23/2021
Watch: Contingent Encounters Book Talk with Author Dan DiPiero | 11/10/2021 
Read: Interview with Music Journalism Insider | 10/31/2021

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 260pp.
  • 6 illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2022
  • Forthcoming
  • 978-0-472-13315-4

  • $80.00 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2022
  • Forthcoming
  • 978-0-472-03919-7

  • $34.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2022
  • Forthcoming
  • 978-0-472-90311-5



  • Improvisation, Music, Everyday Life, Improvisation Studies, Musicology, Jazz, Jazz Studies, Free Jazz, Improvised Music, Aesthetics and Politics, Affect, Affect Theory, Feminist Affect, Relationality, Eric Dolphy, Out to Lunch, Kris Davis, Ingrid Laubrock, Mr. K, Musical Improvisation, Social Improvisation