I am behind on commenting on the books I've been reading.
Summary: Super eggheaded discussion of why performance is an act of creation every bit as important as composition.
As an Amazon Prime member, I was able to 'borrow' Bruce Ellis Benson's "The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue: A Phenomenology of Music" on Kindle for a week. I'm glad I did, but I don't know that I'll pick it up.
Oh, it was interesting. And when he finally started to talk about the early music movement, I was bookmarking like crazy. Yes, that's a good point! Yes, those are the sorts of questions we have to resolve! Yes, yes!
But it is, at heart, a philosophy book. What is a work of music? Is it the score? Is it the score plus a particular performance? Is it some Platonic ideal that lies hidden? Who creates the work? The composer or the performer? What role, if any, does the audience play?
Those are interesting questions, particularly since Benson's goal is to challenge the 'Western art music' ("classical" music, which can encompass everything from the Baroque to postmodern) concept of the "true work," birthed by the composer, with the performer relegated to the role of a dutiful servant enacting the composer's wishes. He goes on for a good bit about jazz as an alternative paradigm, where the musician's improvisation is a critical aspect of the creation of the work. Early music, also rich with improvisation, gets a short section as well.
This is all discussed in a rich swirl of philosophers I've heard of in passing, and some I'd never heard of. Lots of lingo, although Benson seemed to do a good enough job of explaining it. I had to reread a few parts, but I was never hopelessly lost.
But this isn't exactly a practical how-to guide. I recommend it to frustrated performers who want some grade A academic arguments to toss around during A&S chit-chat time, when they want to assert their legitimacy as creators and artists.