Musical Answerability . A Theory on The Relationship Between Music Therapy Impovisation and The Phenomenon of Action

Project leader:
Karette Annie Stensæth

Project period:
2005 – 2008

Research centre:


Disability, Music therapy

Fellowship project
Ph.D. in Music Therapy

What is the relationship between music therapy improvisation and the phenomenon of action?

This thesis seeks to build a theory on how actions manifest themselves in music therapy improvisation and how they are cultivated and thought about by music therapists. A video recorded excerpt of a music therapy improvisation with a multi-handicapped client is used in order to produce the empirical material, and the theoretical material includes discussions on relevant established theories.

New theoretical perspectives are also introduced, such as the Russian linguist and philosopher Mikhail M. Baktin's terms carnival and dialogue. In a reflective synthesis of the various sources, the author, who is an experienced music therapist with a broad musical background, presents another perspective:"Musical answerability" is suggested as a theory that incorporates the existential, sociological and practical relational perspectives connected to the relationship between music therapy improvisation and the phenomenon of action. The dissertation will be of interest to therapists, musicians, educators and other professionals who are interested in improvisation.

This study discusses theories on improvisation in music therapy. The aim is to expand our understanding of music therapy improvisation by incorporating existential and philosophical perspectives on action. The import of Mikhail Bakhtin's thinking is especially crucial herein.

The dissertation was approved for defence in February 2008. 

Ph.D. dissertation

The thesis is available in NMH Brage

Project leader


Karette Annie Stensæth


Music Therapy

Last updated: 29. June 2015