Vijay Iyer2003

For pianist-composer-improvisor Vijay Iyer, creating music is fundamentally a process of inquiry. Drawing from South Asian, African, European and American music, and grounded in the experimental jazz tradition, he creates distinctive musical spaces in which symbolically charged improvisation, speculative sonic exploration, and musical narrative unfold. A prolific composer who writes in many formats—short and free sketches to long epic works—he views intensive collaboration as a crucible for aesthetic and conceptual growth and performs his pieces with a community of equally committed and original peers. His scholarly investigations on the role of embodiment in musical perception, cognition, and individual and cultural performance have fostered a vital synergy between his intellectual and political concerns and his on-going creative work.

"I like to explore the audible traces of the human body in improvisational music through rhythm, gesture, and physicality. I also think about the situated character of musical activity—the role played by its sociocultural and physical environment. These notions of embodiment and situatedness help us to critique the neutral definition of music as organized sound. We should understand music as something closer to us: human bodies in meaningful process, sonorous acts in an information-rich context, the sonic trace of individual and collective action."