Improvising Themes of Abjection with Maggie Nicols

Ferrett, D ORCID logoORCID: (2014) Improvising Themes of Abjection with Maggie Nicols. Performance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts, 19 (1). pp. 81-90. ISSN 1352-8165

[thumbnail of Improvising themes of abjection.pdf] Text
Improvising themes of abjection.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Falmouth staff and students only

Download (755kB)
Official URL:

Abstract / Summary

Vocalist Maggie Nicols is a pioneer of free improvisation in the UK. She has developed an extraordinary body of work that reaches from the 1960s to the present day, yet she seems to remain strangely absent from dominant music narratives that tell the story of jazz and free improvisation. Given the enormity of Nicols’ achievements and the innovative quality of her work, it is surprising that so little has been written about her vocal practice which, up until fairly recently, has only been offered an arguably obscure status in terms of the bastion of music history. This essay discusses the marginalization of Nicols’ practice as testament to a deeply gendered music canon that abjects certain bodies from its appraisal. Conversations with Nicols herself, allows the article to further complicate her outsider status by looking at the ways in which the abject is relished as fundamental to her approach to making improvised sound. In performances and educational workshops, Nicols invites the abject and the abjected to return from social exile via the voice. The essay argues that Nicols is one of the most vitally significant and political musicians of our time, because of her ability to create a third space – in music practice – where the abject voice and abjected bodies become audible. In so doing, Nicols’ socially inclusive music practice ruptures the political silencing of socially excluded bodies, of the outsiders.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: 10.1080/13528165.2014.908087
Additional Information: Online ISSN:1469-9990
Uncontrolled Keywords: Improvisation, Abject, Maggie Nicols,
ISSN: 1352-8165
Subjects: Music > Miscellaneous
Music > Musical Performance
Philosophy & Psychology
Courses by Department: Academy of Music & Theatre Arts > Music
Depositing User: D Ferrett
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2019 09:38
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2023 16:52


View Item View Item (login required)