Wednesday, June 2, 2010

random notes on music/space

the foremost question has to be: why should there be concerts anymore? why would we want to see somebody/something LIVE? and pay for it? these are random notes I took at two different concert venues in los angeles:
1)
the conventional space for a traditional concert and how to subvert it ...
-why is the laptop on a music stand?
the reality of an outside gets into the loft (with white walls) through an open window. the sound of a helicopter. the first row of the audience (the listeners, the spectators) already lies on the floor. they fell like dominoes and I wait for the next to fall. I suspect this will be a men as there are far more than women among the audience.
-what category is sound volume? what if I think that this piece could easily be much louder?
a train signal! and some real-time projections/visuals.
-why does everyone when listening carefully/closely look up? (this has to be revised as in another space almost everyone looked down). the traditional configuration, the separation between stage and auditorium, performers and audience still remains. and precisely because of the slow development of the piece and its intended silence everyone moves only very cautiously.

-should tonal vibrations be mirrored in bodily movements of the audience?
a change in my position that happened by chance (this piece is long, I have to change the way I sit) opens up the richness of the sound as it changes when I move my head from left to right and back and teeter back and forth with my upper body.
-why do so many composers/performers seem to forget that their pieces change with actual movements of the audience? that it is more than an audio(visual) event but a sensory one that involves exactly more than one (or two) senses?
-how do they (within a stream of sound and silence and quietness and slow development and non-development) define a beginning and an end? Is this important anymore? What if one misses both? The gestures stay the same, the positions stay the same. I want the inside out and the outside in. underneath the overpass.
I dream of a piece of stage-set or furniture or framework or spatial configuration, or even two: one for the performers where they are forced to give up their usual positions and one for the listeners where they have to change their position. not constantly, it's not a gym class, but sometimes ...

set up categories:
- composer(s), piece, performer(s), audience, space
- different states of reception/perception/listening
- a triangle
- states: passive, active, in/out, constant, attentive, immersed, psychically, physically,
- the spatial setting and the location of the fourth wall in particular, define whether we speak about a 'performance,' an 'installation,' or a 'concert,' and their different approaches to interactivity (this term is actually my 'red flag', but this is another story soon to be posted...)

2)
people listen attentively, then they delve into music/sound, get immersed and probably absorbed in it. it is (not almost) like stages of meditation or at least this is my interpretation. is this the only form of art where immersion is always something good and marks a stage that has to be reached? what if I don't get immersed, will I get bored then, is it ok to drift in and out of a piece?
there are obviously certain gestures and postures that support this phases (especially when sitting on the floor): chin in your hand, hands in your lap, looking downwards, eyes closed. it is indistinguishable then if somebody is asleep or absorbed in listening. how can these slouchy positions be regarded as attentive? the looks range from bored (cultivated ennui sounds much better) to serious and sad. nobody laughs this evening. I am too distracted to sit still, so I smile and stretch, and tapp with my feet to a non-existing beat (it was a drone-piece), get fascinated by the violin players, holding their notes and overtones, playing a duet, a ping-pong-piece, standing in the middle of the left and right wall of the gallery space. we, the audience, sit between and (almost) around them on the floor and at the corner of the little white stage that was set up. the area right behind the entrance and around the reception desk (why? why there?) is crowded like the kitchen/the bathroom/wherever the booze is ... during a party.
the laptop-musician takes the stage. does he have to because of how the speakers are directed or is he afraid of getting lost in the crowd? very 90s, I say to my friends.

1 comment:

OPEN* said...

ms. firn,

where is one in space when reading the criticisms/ intuitions/ observations? Is the warmth of my laptop a result of words or the wavering motor that hums into my lap? while attention slips into drowsiness i have to wonder the relevance of immersive listening experiences and the weight of such a quality as well. Is sound art an upper class romantic comedy that thrives on contemplation of the senses more than social coercion? Your thoughts on the political ramifications of such practices?