Ensemble Stuff: The Grateful Dead's Development of Rock-based Improvisational Practice and its Religious Implications
Kaler, Michael John
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This dissertation examines the Grateful Dead’s creation of a distinctively rock-oriented approach to open improvisation in the mid to late 1960s. In the first section of the dissertation, I draw on live recordings, presented diachronically, to examine how the band developed this approach to improvisation. In the second section, I address the issue of why they developed this approach; in so doing, I move from strictly musical to religious concerns in order to demonstrate the fundamentally spiritual impetus that drove the band to devise and devotedly practice such a radical approach to rock playing, in the process linking their religious motivations with similarly transcendence-focused aspirations of other radical improvisers of the 1960s.