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Jazz and Everyday Aesthetics


Nick Gebhardt

Research aims

Jazz and Everyday Aesthetics is a two-year research network project that explores the everyday value of jazz and the aesthetic experiences associated with it. The aim of the network is to connect jazz scholars with jazz audiences by involving venues, festivals and arts organisations in our workshops and exploring different ways of presenting and talking about the music.

Jazz speaks to diverse communities throughout the world on themes of freedom, spontaneity, virtuosity, improvisation, individuality and collectivity, as well as mediating major knowledge of its significance is framed primarily in terms of its greatest artists, along with its impact on every major art form, from painting to cinema, Nick realised that we know much less about our everyday aesthetic experiences of music. This project is an attempt to get a better understanding of this aspect of music.

Methods of research

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the project focuses on those aspects of our lives that are normally neglected or ignored because they are eclipsed by studies of jazz’s canonical artists and their performances. Attention to the ordinariness or everyday nature of musical encounters opens onto a unexpectedly complex aesthetic dimension of the generally mundane, non-memorable, ordinary parts of our daily existence, from the Muzak in supermarket to the street musicians in subway stations.

The network will run four one-day meetings in London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, and Cheltenham, with associated public performances and specially commissioned recordings following the completion of the each of the four events.


The benefit of this project is that it brings musicians, promoters, festival directors and academics together to explore the value and meaning of jazz through a series of informal workshops, as well as connecting participants to wider debates about the cultural and historical significance of jazz.