This introductory chapter defines terminology and concepts that will be drawn upon throughout the succeeding chapters. First, two definitions of improvisation are explored — one from the 19th century and one from the present day — highlighting their common core concept: spontaneous creativity within constraints. Following a discussion of the relevance of these aspects of improvisation to the present study of cognition in improvisation, some important concepts from the cognitive psychology of learning and memory are presented that serve as useful tools in understanding the material of the chapters that follow. Finally, the notion of comparisons between music and language cognition is introduced.
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