Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

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Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby take5_d_shorterer » 11 Jun 2009, 23:18

0. Imagine that for medical reasons you had to wear patches over both eyes. You have an opportunity to get tickets to go to a show for a band you're interested in. Do you go?

1. How important are the song titles or album titles to you?

2. Would it degrade the listening experience substantially if you didn't have access to song titles or the name of the album, e.g., you got a CD-R with no information?

3. When you go to a live performance, is it important to you to be as close as possible to the performers?

4. Is there a distance beyond which you wouldn't bother to go see a live band? (i.e., if you had to sit/stand >300 ft. away as in a stadium gig, would you not go to the show?)

5. If you go to a piano recital, do you need to sit to the left of the auditorium?

6. Is the physical appearance of the performer important?

7. Would you, for example, not pay to see a singer who was over 350 lbs.?

8. Do you think that performers should "dress up" (e.g., glam rock costumes)?

9. Do you think performers should "dress down" (e.g., wear similar clothing to what the audience wears)?

9a. If you're going to see an opera, how important is it to you that the costumes and design be first-rate and costly?

10. How much should performers be engaged with their audience in how they are presenting their work? For example, how much do you think should they be acknowledging the audience? This doesn't, by the way, necessarily have to be talking to the audience. It could be looking at or confronting the audience in some way.

11. Would it bother you if a performer played with his or her back to the audience?

12. What if a performer played while reading music or charts and needed cues? What would you think about that?

13. Would it bother you if a performer had to look constantly at his or her instrument while playing it?

14. Does the performer need to be visible?

15. For the sake of definition, let’s define “theatre” (in music) to be everything in the presentation of music that isn’t the actual sound itself. How important is “theatre” to you?
Last edited by take5_d_shorterer on 12 Jun 2009, 18:58, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby bobzilla77 » 11 Jun 2009, 23:53

1. How important are the song titles or album titles to you? Somewhat.

2. Would it degrade the listening experience substantially if you didn't have access to song titles or the name of the album, e.g., you got a CD-R with no information? Yes

3. When you go to a live performance, is it important to you to be as close as possible to the performers? Yes, very much,.

4. Is there a distance beyond which you wouldn't bother to go see a live band? What, travel or distance from the stage? I'd say if I'm paying, I want to sit 20th row or closer, otherwise it's not likely worth it. I'll sit in the back if I get in free though.

5. If you go to a piano recital, do you need to sit to the left of the auditorium? No

6. Is the physical appearance of the performer important? Sometimes

7. Would you, for example, not pay to see a singer who was over 350 lbs.? I would if it was a good singer. Maybe if Britney Spears hit 350 ...I'd start liking her.

8. Do you think that performers should "dress up" (e.g., glam rock costumes)? Not that they should, but they can if they want to.

9. Do you think performers should "dress down" (e.g., wear similar clothing to what the audience wears)? Not that they should, but they can if they want to.

9a. If you're going to see an opera, how important is it to you that the costumes and design be first-rate and costly? I just went last night! Well if the tickets are costly, part of what you're paying for is an "elevated" experience, with exceptionally high production values. Yes, important. Although if it was a low-budget community theater type production, less so than when spending $100+ for the big-deal opera.

10. How much should performers be engaged with their audience in how they are presenting their work? Not sure I understand, do you mean, tell us stories about it, or take requests? In general I trust the performer to do a good show, I don't need to provide suggestions.

11. Would it bother you if a performer played with his or her back to the audience? Like Robert Fripp hiding behind his rackmounts? LOL. Well I guess he has some kind of phobia of cameras so, it's a tad irksome, but I'll put up with it if I want to hear the music.

12. What if a performer played while reading music or charts and needed cues? What would you think about that? Don't bother me, but it shouldn't ever SOUND like they are reading from charts.

13. Would it bother you if a performer had to look constantly at his or her instrument while playing it? No

14. Does the performer need to be visible? Not necessarily. When I saw Throbbing Gristle they played to a film projection, and you could barely see the people on stage. Same when I saw Pink FLoyd in a stadium, I guess they were visible but from the back of a football field I couldn't even count the number of people on stage. As long as there's SOMETHING to look at I'm OK.

15. For the sake of definition, let’s define “theatre” (in music) to be everything in the presentation of music that isn’t the actual sound itself. How important is “theatre” to you? Somewhat important. I like a high-energy visual show from a high-energy band. But have also really enjoyed shows like King Crimson's which, as noted above, aren't usually much to look at. Put it this way - if the Jesus Lizard came out & didn't break a sweat all night, it would bug me. I don't expect Fripp to break one, ever.
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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby Muskrat » 11 Jun 2009, 23:54

1. How important are the song titles or album titles to you?
I have no idea what you mean.

2. Would it degrade the listening experience substantially if you didn't have access to song titles or the name of the album, e.g., you got a CD-R with no information?
If nothing else, titles are a way to tell things apart. Other than that, probably no. I may be missing your point...again.

3. When you go to a live performance, is it important to you to be as close as possible to the performers?
Less and less as I got older. The sound mix is often better further back, and there may be less of a crowd.

4. Is there a distance beyond which you wouldn't bother to go see a live band?
I wouldn't go to a stadium show or large outdoor concert, I suppose.

5. If you go to a piano recital, do you need to sit to the left of the auditorium?
I'd never given it a thought. I generally tend to sit on the left anyway, but that's habitual -- I could as easily sit on the right. Being on an aisle is more important to me than which aisle.

6. Is the physical appearance of the performer important?
I will admit that there are some performers whose appearance puts me off. But I don't demand that they be handsome/beautiful.

7. Would you, for example, not pay to see a singer who was over 350 lbs.?
I've paid to see Solomon Burke.

8. Do you think that performers should "dress up" (e.g., glam rock costumes)?
There's a theory that the person on stage should look as if they dressed up a bit, if only out of respect for the audience. Then there's the "we're just one of you" look, like the early Stones.

9. Do you think performers should "dress down" (e.g., wear similar clothing to what the audience wears)?
See above.

9a. If you're going to see an opera, how important is it to you that the costumes and design be first-rate and costly?
I'd rather they spent the money on the talent. As for plays (you did say "theatre" up in the subject line), some of the best Shakespeare I've seen was performed in the equivalent of jeans and t-shirts, with a couple of chairs as the only set.

10. How much should performers be engaged with their audience in how they are presenting their work?
I like to think they know we're out there, and appreciate a bit of chatter when appropriate.

11. Would it bother you if a performer played with his or her back to the audience?
Depends on the performer. Miles Davis, J.J. Cale -- no. Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lee Lewis -- yes.

12. What if a performer played while reading music or charts and needed cues? What would you think about that?
I'd think they valued us enough to make sure they got it right.

13. Would it bother you if a performer had to look constantly at his or her instrument while playing it?
Maybe they're just shy. None of my business, really, if the music's good.

14. Does the performer need to be visible?
Only in the sense of honesty -- I don't like the idea of offstage supplementary guitarists or keyboardists. I'd rather see the extra musicians on stage than think that the artist was performing to prerecorded accompaniment.

14a. Are these questions ever going to stop?
Seems unlikely at this point.

15. For the sake of definition, let’s define “theatre” (in music) to be everything in the presentation of music that isn’t the actual sound itself. How important is “theatre” to you?
If I wanted just the sound itself -- which is increasingly the case -- I'd stay home and listen to the record or watch the DVD. Less expensive, more comfortable, and a quicker run to the loo.
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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby take5_d_shorterer » 12 Jun 2009, 00:15

A few answers. More later.

0. Imagine that for medical reasons you had to wear patches over both eyes. You have an opportunity to get tickets to go to a show for a band you're interested in. Do you go?

This depends on how interested I am. If I were mildly interested, then not having the visuals could be the marginal thing that determines whether or not I would go. If it were a band or performer I liked a great deal, then the visuals would probably not be a determining factor. If the performers were playing a piece that I knew fairly well and liked and I thought the sound was going to be good, then it wouldn't be a make-or-break issue.

A few years ago, somebody scored the Goldberg Variations for string orchestra. That's enough of a new riff on material I know that I would go to show whether or not I could see it.

1. How important are the song titles or album titles to you?

My memory is not that good. I use as much of the information--song titles, album titles, year produced, musicians involved, etc.---as devices to help me remember what the pieces are and also to place the music in some sort of context. If it's French harpsichord music from the 17th century (e.g., Louis Couperin), it can help me to know that it's French harpsichord music from the 17th century.

At the same time, I consider this need on my part to be a musical failing.

A lot of Bach's most popular music (also Beethoven's) is music that has a title that has been added on afterwards. The Brandenburg Concertos weren't called that by Bach, but it's become a convenient advertising hook. They are, in fact, very good pieces, but no better than the harpsichord concertos from the 1740s that he wrote, which are not nearly as well known.

The Goldberg Variations have a snappier nickname than Clavierubung III. Both pieces are probably of equal quality.

2. Would it degrade the listening experience substantially if you didn't have access to song titles or the name of the album, e.g., you got a CD-R with no information?

See above.

3. When you go to a live performance, is it important to you to be as close as possible to the performers?

Usually, but this can be a big disadvantage as Muskrat has said. I went to see Mission of Burma at one of the Pitchfork festivals. I was quite close to Roger Miller because I wanted to see how he played guitar. The sound was a total mess.

4. Is there a distance beyond which you wouldn't bother to go see a live band?

Clarification: by distance, I mean distance to the performer. e.g., if you had to be 300 ft away from the performer, would you bother to attend?

I don't think I've been to a stadium gig in years, but the reason has to do mostly with the sound rather than the visuals. When the people at the mixing board have to figure out how to fill up a large space with sound, they usually have to add a lot of compression. Without this, I think the system is much more prone to feedback, which would be a disaster. As a result the sound is usually pretty bad. There was a "simulcast" of a Rolling Stones show from the late 1980s I heard from a stadium show that had all of these problems.

The CDs of live recordings by the Velvet Underground in the early 1990s when they got together for a reunion tour also sounded bad as well and in the same way. It was interesting to hear near unanimity here from those who attended the shows that they weren't good.

5. If you go to a piano recital, do you need to sit to the left of the auditorium?

This is a pretty big deal for me. I like to be able to see the pianist's hands and also, if possible, pedaling technique. Unfortunately, in a recent show Angela Hewitt wore a dress that was too long, and it was impossible to see when she was applying the sustain pedal. There are a lot of different views on whether one should or shouldn't do this in playing Bach. She gets a good sound so it would have been nice to see how she did this.

6. Is the physical appearance of the performer important?

It may be, but again, I would say that inasmuch as it is, it is a musical failing on my part.

7. Would you, for example, not pay to see a singer who was over 350 lbs.?

Recently Covent Garden fired Deborah Voight from performing in Strauss's Salome because she couldn't fit into a certain dress size. This is despite the fact that Voight is well-known for the role and sang it previously at Covent Garden.

Like a lot of people, I tend to have a bias when I listen to classical music towards instrumental and away from vocal. A lot of this is just personal taste, but a lot of it is also the notion that the operatic world is filled with musical lightweights. Covent Garden is a major opera house, and yet they seem to be obsessed with things that have nothing to do with musical quality.

It's hard to imagine similar actions being taken in non-vocal music. As an example, it's ludicrous to think of Norman Grantz firing Art Tatum from Jazz at the Philharmonic because he was too fat.

8. Do you think that performers should "dress up" (e.g., glam rock costumes)?

This question is basically an excuse to talk about a photograph I recently saw at the Met:

Image
Cindy Sherman, Untitled, mid to late 1970s

which covers the entire spectrum in the 1970s from earnest "authenticity" (e.g., "acoustic" or "folk" based music, or certain styles of feminism) to glam-rock. They're both part of the same decade just as these are a progression of photographs of the same person. It's hard to list all the arguments being advanced, from the nature of artifice to the type of masks people wear to the type of music in the 1970s (note that the upper-left photo is the the one that uniquely determines this sequence as being from that decade. The others with more makeup could conceivably have been from another time period.), how much can one reinvent oneself, how much should one reinvent oneself, what is sexual desire, how can you package it, how can you get it to sell things?


9. Do you think performers should "dress down" (e.g., wear similar clothing to what the audience wears)?

1st answer: My first instinctive reaction to this is: no, the performers are onstage. They are already (for most shows) separated from the audience. The artifice that they are like the audience and that they can dress to convey that artifice is itself artifice.

On the other hand, I don't think you can dismiss so completely what is happening in between pop music performers and their audiences. It is important that performers pay attention to what their audiences are thinking (not necessarily what their audiences want, which is a different matter). The "dressing down" needs to occur on some level in private. If it doesn't, then what you get--not that this is a bad thing--is some artifact that may sound like pop music but doesn't tap into something more mysterious.

What performers wear onstage to be like their audiences is a relatively minor thing compared to what I'm talking about above.

2nd answer: Let's revise this for classical music. In this case, I think it is preferable that musicians dress down to wear what the audiences are wearing, namely business clothing and suits. The whole tuxedo and evening gown outfit has never worked for me. It's too florid, and it gets in the way. The musicians onstage are in the business of making music. If you want costumes, you should go someplace other than chamber music and orchestral music.

9a. If you're going to see an opera, how important is it to you that the costumes and design be first-rate and costly?

My answer is no, and it takes an extreme view on this.

I think the assumption that opera companies (and classical ballet companies also) make that audiences require that the work needs to be presented with definite costumes and staging is fairly damaging if not highly damaging.

I've seen a number of documentaries on dance or opera, and sometimes the most interesting parts are occurring in rehearsal with no costume and no stage set. That there is no costume and stage set emphasizes the music and gets you to focus on the essence of the music. I know that statement degrades all the wonderful aspects of stagecraft (lighting, etc.), but I feel it instinctively. When you see a bare stage, you know that something is in the process of being taken apart and put together. When you see full costumes, you know that this collaborative process has concluded.

10. How much should performers be engaged with their audience in how they are presenting their work? For example, how much do you think should they be acknowledging the audience? This doesn't, by the way, necessarily have to be talking to the audience. It could be looking at or confronting the audience in some way.

It's possible to give a performance in which the performer behaves pretty much the same as if it were a rehearsal in which there is no acknowledgement of the audience. On the other hand, the performer could be acknowledging the audience in all sorts of ways whether that be chatting amiably or throwing excrement around (e.g., GG Allin). Obviously one activity smells worse that the other, but both are essentially a theatrical performance.

11. Would it bother you if a performer played with his or her back to the audience?

In some contexts--e.g., pianist who is also conducting, let's say, a Mozart concerto--this is the norm. In other situations, e.g., Miles Davis Quintet, this is a deliberate choice.

I think there has to be a fairly good reason for this such as conversing with the rest of the band. Otherwise, it looks very mannered. I wouldn't be annoyed at being ignored. I would be annoyed at being distracted by the artifice.

12. What if a performer played while reading music or charts and needed cues? What would you think about that?

Lou Reed read the lyrics to "Foot of Pride" at the 30th anniversary Dylan celebration in Madison Square Garden in 1991. He looks awful in the telecast: very stilted. However, if you listen to the performance, it's quite good. The telecast is a relatively minor document compared to the audio recording. I place greater emphasis on the latter.

13. Would it bother you if a performer had to look constantly at his or her instrument while playing it?

This depends on the material and the instrument. Playing technically difficult material on the piano is easier if you can look at the instrument. You can understand why pianists would look at the keyboard.

On the other hand, a great deal of pop music isn't technically difficult at all, and furthermore, many pop musicians have been playing the material for years and years. There is something irritating about seeing musicians who 1) have so little mastery of their instruments and 2) are also too terrified of making a mistake. It seems as if such musicians occupy the worst of two different worlds: pop and classical.

On one hand, they have the sort of timidity that classical musicians routinely display because their material is so technically difficult. They don't have the brashness that is pop music's greatest strength. On the other hand, they have material that is technically simplistic and that usually has little of the mindbending intricacies of classical music.

Many great pop musicians (e.g., Hendrix, Townshend, Richard Thompson, Bill Kirchen, Sleeter-Kinney) rarely look at their instruments because they gone beyond the "connecting-the-dots" approach to playing. They are thinking about something else. This is a theatrical and conceptual thing, but it usually translates to tape. Not sure how or why.

14. Does the performer need to be visible?

There is a reasonably well-known show that PiL played (at the Palladium, NYC?) in the early 1980s in which the band was not visible because it played behind a curtain. pig bodine refers to this in a later post.

I think one of the points of the PiL show is that they were presenting a challenge to the audience to ask themselves whether the audience was attending in order to hear the music, which was PiL's central concern, or whether the audience was attending the show mainly to deal in all the extraneous things (John Lydon's hairstyle, the lighting).

If the band puts on a fantastic performance but they do it behind a curtain, haven't they fulfilled their first and main obligation to their audience?

I would say yes if one's main interest in PiL is in its music. Of course, if one's main interest in PiL is in things like John Lydon's hairstyle, I can understand how someone would be understandably annoyed at such a show.

The decision to play behind a curtain is a litmus test, just the kind of thing that you would expect a band like PiL to do.


15. For the sake of definition, let’s define “theatre” (in music) to be everything in the presentation of music that isn’t the actual sound itself. How important is “theatre” to you?
Last edited by take5_d_shorterer on 18 Jun 2009, 00:05, edited 8 times in total.

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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby the masked man » 12 Jun 2009, 00:23

1. How important are the song titles or album titles to you?

Pretty important. I must admit I don't rate the Sigur Ros album on which there were no titles as much as the ones where titles are present; I can't speak Icelandic, so the titles shouldn't make any difference in this instance, but they do give me something to hang onto, in some sense I don't quite understand.

2. Would it degrade the listening experience substantially if you didn't have access to song titles or the name of the album, e.g., you got a CD-R with no information?

Yes; the packaging is part of the art of recorded music for me.

3. When you go to a live performance, is it important to you to be as close as possible to the performers?

I think I prefer to be a few rows back - close enough to have a good view, but not actually looking up the lead singer's nostrils.

4. Is there a distance beyond which you wouldn't bother to go see a live band?

Yes - I'm useless at sorting out logistics for travelling to see bands, so I'd only consider travelling far for a band I really wanted to see.

5. If you go to a piano recital, do you need to sit to the left of the auditorium?

No. I don't know if this is the same, but when I visit the cinema, I always sit on the right side of the auditorium.

6. Is the physical appearance of the performer important?

Not overly so.

7. Would you, for example, not pay to see a singer who was over 350 lbs.?

Weight doesn't bother at all - I wouldn't boycott

8. Do you think that performers should "dress up" (e.g., glam rock costumes)?
9. Do you think performers should "dress down" (e.g., wear similar clothing to what the audience wears)?

This is, of course, the same question asked from different angles. Frankly it depends on the act - I'd expect different costumes for a commercial pop act (Lady GaGa, say) to a band of 'serious' musicians (like Radiohead). Of course, these lines were more blurred in the 70s (see Roxy Music for example), but this is what I'd expect today.

9a. If you're going to see an opera, how important is it to you that the costumes and design be first-rate and costly?

I'm not an opera lover. I would think that threadbare or second-rate costumes would however be offputting - unless perhaps they were a conscious feature of an avant-garde production.

10. How much should performers be engaged with their audience in how they are presenting their work?

I think generally they should make an effort to engage with us, as we're paying their wages. I like the fact that Richard Thompson fought his natural shyness to become an engaging frontman, for example.

11. Would it bother you if a performer played with his or her back to the audience?

I've seen this happen! Aiden Moffatt of Arab Strap performed much of a gig in Cardiff facing the band. It was an interesting novelty, which seemed to fit this band's persona, but I suspect it would get annoying if it happened too often.

12. What if a performer played while reading music or charts and needed cues? What would you think about that?

It wouldn't bother me too much, I think.

13. Would it bother you if a performer had to look constantly at his or her instrument while playing it?

Again, no problems. I was a fan of many of the 'shoegazing' fans of the early 90s, so-called because of their habit of seemingly staring at their effects pedals.

14. Does the performer need to be visible?

In what way? Do you mean playing behind a screen, hidden behind costumes and masks (like The Residents) or just specks in the distance at a sports stadium? The latter is annoying (unless they have video screens); I saw REM at a rugby stadium in Cardiff, and it was clear this was a band suited to medium-sized arenas; they were too distant in this setting. However, I think I like the idea of deliberately 'hidden' bands.

15. For the sake of definition, let’s define “theatre” (in music) to be everything in the presentation of music that isn’t the actual sound itself. How important is “theatre” to you?[/quote]

Again, I'd say it depends on the act in question. For most rock bands, I think immediacy works best, so theatrical props get in the way (but does the setting of an indie club involve a certain amount of theatrical pretence to begin with?). Pop seems different. I saw The Pet Shop Boys about ten years ago, and their show had dancers, costume changes and a set designed by architect Zaha Hadid; this was entirely in keeping with their aesthetic. It added to the sense of occasion there, though it would have looked strange for a guitar-based indie band.

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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby LeBaron » 12 Jun 2009, 00:26

It's funny because I've been a pretty avid consumer of live music/music performance in my life, but I'm pretty open to whatever. Which may explain why I see a lot of stuff -- I'm not put off by this or that and I don't have demands or expectations, in general.

1. How important are the song titles or album titles to you?
Not important, though I suppose they could make a difference if they were particularly good or bad.

2. Would it degrade the listening experience substantially if you didn't have access to song titles or the name of the album, e.g., you got a CD-R with no information?
No.

3. When you go to a live performance, is it important to you to be as close as possible to the performers?
Yes.

4. Is there a distance beyond which you wouldn't bother to go see a live band?
I would cross the globe if money and time weren't a problem. As far as a venue goes, yeah. I wouldn't go to a really big show if I wasn't going to be reasonably close. Though that isn't absolute.

5. If you go to a piano recital, do you need to sit to the left of the auditorium?
Need is a strong word.

6. Is the physical appearance of the performer important?
No, but it can have an impact.

7. Would you, for example, not pay to see a singer who was over 350 lbs.?
Yes, of course.

8. Do you think that performers should "dress up" (e.g., glam rock costumes)?
No, but I don't care if they do.

9. Do you think performers should "dress down" (e.g., wear similar clothing to what the audience wears)?
No, but I don't care if they do.

9a. If you're going to see an opera, how important is it to you that the costumes and design be first-rate and costly?
Somewhat. I've only been to a couple.

10. How much should performers be engaged with their audience in how they are presenting their work?
I don't care. Depends on the performer.

11. Would it bother you if a performer played with his or her back to the audience?
Nope. This isn't the question, but I generally enjoy it when the performer is hostile to the crowd.

12. What if a performer played while reading music or charts and needed cues? What would you think about that?
I wouldn't care, I don't think. So long as it sounded cool.

13. Would it bother you if a performer had to look constantly at his or her instrument while playing it?
No.

14. Does the performer need to be visible?
No. But if the performer isn't visible, then something should be visible.

15. For the sake of definition, let’s define “theatre” (in music) to be everything in the presentation of music that isn’t the actual sound itself. How important is “theatre” to you?
It's not important. I don't get upset if there's nothing but the presentation of music. But it can definitely make a difference.
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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby Billybob Dylan » 12 Jun 2009, 00:43

2. Would it degrade the listening experience substantially if you didn't have access to song titles or the name of the album, e.g., you got a CD-R with no information?
No.

3. When you go to a live performance, is it important to you to be as close as possible to the performers?
Physically or emotionally? Physically, no; emotionally, I s'pose.

4. Is there a distance beyond which you wouldn't bother to go see a live band? (i.e., if you had to sit/stand >300 ft. away as in a stadium gig, would you not go to the show?)
I wouldn't bother with a stadium gig again if it meant being that far away from the "action."

5. If you go to a piano recital, do you need to sit to the left of the auditorium?
Only if the performer is right handed.

6. Is the physical appearance of the performer important?
Not at all. People have, after all, paid to see me play before.

7. Would you, for example, not pay to see a singer who was over 350 lbs.?
I saw Robert Lucas many, many times, and he was 300 lbs. +. Before he died.

8. Do you think that performers should "dress up" (e.g., glam rock costumes)?
They don't have to.

9. Do you think performers should "dress down" (e.g., wear similar clothing to what the audience wears)?
Not necessarily.

9a. If you're going to see an opera, how important is it to you that the costumes and design be first-rate and costly?
Depends. If it was at The Coliseum, then the whole presentation should be first rate, but the cost is irrelevant as far as the enjoyment is concerned.

10. How much should performers be engaged with their audience in how they are presenting their work?
If they're not engaged, aren't those gigs usually seen as being not very good?

11. Would it bother you if a performer played with his or her back to the audience?
Yes it would. Unless she had a very pretty back.

12. What if a performer played while reading music or charts and needed cues? What would you think about that?
If they need it, fine with me.

13. Would it bother you if a performer had to look constantly at his or her instrument while playing it?
Not at all.

14. Does the performer need to be visible?
If he/she wants to make a connection with his/her audience, then yes.

15. For the sake of definition, let’s define “theatre” (in music) to be everything in the presentation of music that isn’t the actual sound itself. How important is “theatre” to you?
It depends who it is. It probably depends on age & stse of mind, too. For instance, when I was 14 Queen put on a fantastic show. When I was 19, all I wanted those punk bands to was to play loud & fast. Now, at 49, I'd be happy to sit for the entire show and just appreciate some good tunes being performed well.

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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby John Barleykorn » 12 Jun 2009, 03:58

1. How important are the song titles or album titles to you?
Only a bit.

2. Would it degrade the listening experience substantially if you didn't have access to song titles or the name of the album, e.g., you got a CD-R with no information?
Yes a little bit. The more I enjoy the music the more I want to know about it.

3. When you go to a live performance, is it important to you to be as close as possible to the performers?
Yes

4. Is there a distance beyond which you wouldn't bother to go see a live band? (i.e., if you had to sit/stand >300 ft. away as in a stadium gig, would you not go to the show?)
Definitely. The smaller the venue the better, I dont go to stadium shows.

5. If you go to a piano recital, do you need to sit to the left of the auditorium?
Ive never been to one, but I dont think Id be bothered.

6. Is the physical appearance of the performer important?
No

7. Would you, for example, not pay to see a singer who was over 350 lbs.?
No. I saw John Martyn when he was about 20 stone and he was amazing.

8. Do you think that performers should "dress up" (e.g., glam rock costumes)?
Not unless the music requires it.

9. Do you think performers should "dress down" (e.g., wear similar clothing to what the audience wears)?
I dont really mind.

9a. If you're going to see an opera, how important is it to you that the costumes and design be first-rate and costly?
Costume and design MUST be first rate.

10. How much should performers be engaged with their audience in how they are presenting their work?
They should definitely be engaged, but without trying.

11. Would it bother you if a performer played with his or her back to the audience?
Only if said performer was a singer and therefor communicating with an audience. Ive seen Miles Davis and it didnt seem to matter that he mostly faced away from the audience.

12. What if a performer played while reading music or charts and needed cues? What would you think about that?
No problem - EXCEPT if a singer has to read the lyrics. Thats a massive no no.

13. Would it bother you if a performer had to look constantly at his or her instrument while playing it?
It would bother me more if he or she kept playing wrong notes!

14. Does the performer need to be visible?
Yes

15. For the sake of definition, let’s define “theatre” (in music) to be everything in the presentation of music that isn’t the actual sound itself. How important is “theatre” to you?
Exceptionally important. Its all theatre. The stage could be completely bare and devoid of any design, its still theatre.

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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby Muskrat » 12 Jun 2009, 04:03

Joe Moody wrote:15. For the sake of definition, let’s define “theatre” (in music) to be everything in the presentation of music that isn’t the actual sound itself. How important is “theatre” to you?
Exceptionally important. Its all theatre. The stage could be completely bare and devoid of any design, its still theatre.


Good point, in the same sense that razor-slitted beans and a frayed t-shirt are as much a "costume" as Spandex and glitter. Or, for that matter, a business suit. They're all part of the artist's statement.
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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby Insouciant Western People » 12 Jun 2009, 09:06

Yosemite Baron wrote:It's funny because I've been a pretty avid consumer of live music/music performance in my life, but I'm pretty open to whatever. Which may explain why I see a lot of stuff -- I'm not put off by this or that and I don't have demands or expectations, in general.


What he said. Sometimes I'm in the mood to see my mate Dan and his buddy in t-shirts and jeans banging out Everly Brothers covers down the local pub. Other times I want to see something big in a really good venue.

I guess I tend towards a fairly sober aesthetic, I've never been much into people who get dolled up in elaborate costumes and whatnot. That doesn't necessarily mean I want them in a pair of scruffy jeans and a stained sweatshirt, but I tend to consider a nice shirt and suit ensemble to be about as posh or flashy as it needs to get. I like The Bad Seeds' and Leonard Cohen's style.

A nice stage set is good, but it doesn't have to be all that much. When I saw Sparklehorse in 2001 they'd set out vases of flowers dotted around, and a table and chairs in the middle of the stage, and on the quieter numbers a couple of members of the all-female backing band would sit there and sip from glasses of wine. Very pleasant to look at.

Generally, if the music is good and the performer is engaging then that's enough for me. I don't really need to see people leaping around and playing flashily or anything like that.
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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby Magilla » 12 Jun 2009, 09:31

1. How important are the song titles or album titles to you?

Overall, not terribly important, as long as an artist I like doesn't call one of their albums / songs something excruciatingly embarassing, I don't mind what an album or song is called.

2. Would it degrade the listening experience substantially if you didn't have access to song titles or the name of the album, e.g., you got a CD-R with no information?

If it was music I found to my liking I'd be slightly annoyed I didn't know who it was, but I'm content that someone hear would be able to identify it anyway. :) Conversely, if the music was crap, I'd be pleased I had no idea who the sucky artist is.

3. When you go to a live performance, is it important to you to be as close as possible to the performers ?

In my youth it was always heaps of fun to be up near the front. These days I'm happy just standing in the middle of the crowd.

4. Is there a distance beyond which you wouldn't bother to go see a live band? (i.e., if you had to sit/stand >300 ft. away as in a stadium gig, would you not go to the show?)

I don't go to stadium gigs, but if I did and couldn't see things well enough, I'd weedle my way closer if it was possible.

5. If you go to a piano recital, do you need to sit to the left of the auditorium?

I wouldn't be fussy.

6. Is the physical appearance of the performer important?

No.

7. Would you, for example, not pay to see a singer who was over 350 lbs.?

No. When I saw Brian Wilson perform Smile a few years ago, I'd have just as happily paid for the ticket if he'd been at his '70s-era heaviest as long as the music was going to be good.

8. Do you think that performers should "dress up" (e.g., glam rock costumes)?

Generally, no. I think if a performer has to dress up, especially in an affected, gimmicky manner (hello, Marilyn Manson, etc) that, to me, suggests that it's trying to make-up for poor songs, which are, after all, the point of most popular music.

9. Do you think performers should "dress down" (e.g., wear similar clothing to what the audience wears)?

I don't mind if performers wear ordinary clothes, but if they want to look tidy and wear a suit, that's ok, but anything more is getting into costume territory (see above).

9a. If you're going to see an opera, how important is it to you that the costumes and design be first-rate and costly?

I'm highly unlikely to go to see opera and if I did I couldn't care at all about the costumes cost, etc.

10. How much should performers be engaged with their audience in how they are presenting their work?

I'm ok with performers making small talk, but rambling on for ages explaining a song is very bad behaviour.

11. Would it bother you if a performer played with his or her back to the audience?

I've seen it happen heaps and as long as the music's been fine, it hasn't bothered me.

12. What if a performer played while reading music or charts and needed cues? What would you think about that?

As long as the music's fine, etc, etc...

13. Would it bother you if a performer had to look constantly at his or her instrument while playing it?

As long as, etc, etc...

14. Does the performer need to be visible?

Overall, yes, but if it's for example, in a small - medium size club and the band wants to play behind a backdrop, I'm ok with it. About 10 years ago I saw Tony Conrad play behind a white sheet which had a spotlight focused on it. So all you saw was his shadow, which combined with his droning violin, was pretty cool.

15. For the sake of definition, let’s define “theatre” (in music) to be everything in the presentation of music that isn’t the actual sound itself. How important is “theatre” to you?

Not very important. For example, there was almost no theatre when I saw Johnny Cash in '94 and he was amazing. I think if a band has good enough songs just to get on-stage and blow the audience away with simply great songs, they shouldn't need any extras.
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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby Insouciant Western People » 12 Jun 2009, 09:42

10. How much should performers be engaged with their audience in how they are presenting their work?

Depends how engaging they are as people - some people are good at it, others not. I've seen great gigs (Sparklehorse again springs to mind) where there was barely any between-song performer interaction with the audience and yet it was still a magical gig. The music said it all.

But the night before I saw Sparklehorse in 2001, I was at a Giant Sand show and Howe Gelb probably spent as much time chatting to the audience, telling jokes and stories, and messing about with his piano as he did playing songs - and I wouldn't have had it any other way, because he's a funny, charming and engaging bloke.

Billy Bragg and Ben Folds are both also very good at the between-song banter, and appear to be very much at ease onstage which I like a lot. You know if you go to see them you're guaranteed a good night out.
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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby take5_d_shorterer » 12 Jun 2009, 19:02

I see that I could have been clearer in phrasing question 10. I've edited the first post.

10. How much should performers be engaged with their audience in how they are presenting their work? For example, how much do you think should they be acknowledging the audience? This doesn't, by the way, necessarily have to be talking to the audience. It could be looking at or confronting the audience in some way.

It's possible to give a performance in which the performer behaves pretty much the same as if it were a rehearsal in which there is no acknowledgement of the audience. On the other hand, the performer could be acknowledging the audience in all sorts of ways whether that be chatting amiably or throwing excrement around (e.g., GG Allin). Obviously one activity smells worse that the other, but both are essentially a theatrical performance.

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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby bobzilla77 » 12 Jun 2009, 20:09

Shit-tossing is entirely optional when I go to a gig. There have been many, many great gigs with little or no feces strewn about.
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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby Muskrat » 12 Jun 2009, 20:12

bobzilla77 wrote:Shit-tossing is entirely optional when I go to a gig. There have been many, many great gigs with little or no feces strewn about.


You'll have to allow, though, that the practice does add a little "extra" to the experience. Rather like standing in front of the chimpanzee exhibit at the local zoo; only surrounded by sweaty kids, vomiting along with the "music."
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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby bobzilla77 » 12 Jun 2009, 20:45

Muskrat wrote:
bobzilla77 wrote:Shit-tossing is entirely optional when I go to a gig. There have been many, many great gigs with little or no feces strewn about.


You'll have to allow, though, that the practice does add a little "extra" to the experience. Rather like standing in front of the chimpanzee exhibit at the local zoo; only surrounded by sweaty kids, vomiting along with the "music."


Oh yeah, I paid extra for GG Allin tickets in the "Splash Zone."
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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby The Write Profile » 15 Jun 2009, 06:21

Another interesting set of questions!

1. How important are the song titles or album titles to you?

It depends, really, I guess they matter only insofar as they help me remember what the song was! I've never really thought about it in great detail, but I guess as a general rule I'm not a fan of punning titles, but I'm a fan of song titles that don't necessarily reference any lyrics in the song, but seem to evoke something of its quality.
2. Would it degrade the listening experience substantially if you didn't have access to song titles or the name of the album, e.g., you got a CD-R with no information?

I guess this flows on from question 1 quite nicely. The short answer is yes- I grew up in the CD age and yet though I'm primarily a songs man, I still like having something tactile to refer to, even if it's just a booklet with the tracklist. It's a point of reference, I suppose. I guess I'm someone who was caught between two ages- I'm very much a songs person, but I like them bundled up in one group.
3. When you go to a live performance, is it important to you to be as close as possible to the performers?

Depends on the performance, I've seen many acts at events like the Big Day Out where I've gone out of my way to stand right at the back so as not to get crushed in the pit and actually enjoy the music, on the other hand, there's something really pure and intoxicating about being really upclose to a performer or group at a club.
4. Is there a distance beyond which you wouldn't bother to go see a live band? (i.e., if you had to sit/stand >300 ft. away as in a stadium gig, would you not go to the show?)

It really would depend on the context (see above point about the Big Day Out)- I just want the settings to be right for the performance and the music. I guess the main definer would be something as simple as price, particularly for Stadium gigs- I'm not going to pay $150 and not be able to actually get that much more than listening to the record at home.

5. If you go to a piano recital, do you need to sit to the left of the auditorium?

Yes, I do, actually. Accoustics at recitals is very important.

6. Is the physical appearance of the performer important?

Not necessarily-I think it's more a matter of whether the performers are confident in the way the look. How they carry themselves, I guess.

7. Would you, for example, not pay to see a singer who was over 350 lbs.?

Again, it depends on the music and the performer. I wouldn't pay to see Beth Ditto of the Gossip, but not because she's large, but because I find her (and her band's) music braying and boring, and personally reckon she's self-absorbed, sanctimonious and thoroughly glib. But otherwise, no, size doesn't matter!

8. Do you think that performers should "dress up" (e.g., glam rock costumes)?


9. Do you think performers should "dress down" (e.g., wear similar clothing to what the audience wears)?


The question here, is whether the clothes look right on them- the Flaming Lips and Roxy Music's warddrobes fit their whole performance and aesthetic, but somehow I can't see Craig Finn or Bruce Springsteen pulling off that look in quite the same way. It needs to look right, I guess. It's a tough one- I guess there's a very fine line between something that seems natural and something that seems contrived.

9a. If you're going to see an opera, how important is it to you that the costumes and design be first-rate and costly?

One of the things I do enjoy about opera is the clothes, actually- the set design, the sound, etc- but they don't necessarily have to look costly somuch as everyone involved has gone to the effort of finding the right fit.
10. How much should performers be engaged with their audience in how they are presenting their work? For example, how much do you think should they be acknowledging the audience? This doesn't, by the way, necessarily have to be talking to the audience. It could be looking at or confronting the audience in some way.


If there's engagement, I think it should be fit the mood of the performance- the Clean's reunion gigs engagement with the audience worked because it felt like a homecomming and it felt like everyone was there for the same reason. On the other hand, there's nothing worse than a touring band, on their last stop, giving the same tedious "it's great to be here in...." patter. Have something to say, and know when to say it.
11. Would it bother you if a performer played with his or her back to the audience?

I've never thought about it, but yeah, I suppose it would. Something about that seems rather cowardly and diffident, in a way.

12. What if a performer played while reading music or charts and needed cues? What would you think about that?

Joe Moody's- "as long as they don't read the lyrics" rule seems to apply here is fine!

13. Would it bother you if a performer had to look constantly at his or her instrument while playing it?

No, I think I would just adjust to it, and find new ways to get into the music- it can be a weird experience though, watching a performer watching his own playing.

14. Does the performer need to be visible?


I think so, yeah. Otherwise I could just play the music on my stereo at home.

15. For the sake of definition, let’s define “theatre” (in music) to be everything in the presentation of music that isn’t the actual sound itself. How important is “theatre” to you?


I don't know whether theatre is important so much a sense that something is at stake, that everyone wants to be there that night, for whatever reason, and that they want to put on a show, and they want everyone to get something out of it, even if that something is different. There's gotta be a reason, y'know? I didn't spend money to go out for nothing!
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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby Muskrat » 16 Jun 2009, 20:22

pig bodine wrote:I saw Miles Davis or should I say Miles Davis' back once and it really pissed me off--pure contempt for his audience, who paid alot of money, and in my case, money they really could have used for something else, to see him.


The argument, I believe (and to a degree concur with) is that he didn't want to distract the audience from the soloist. Of course, maybe he was just shy.

Now, if he played in a booth where we couldn't hear his sound, he's rate a severe reprimand from this corner!
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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby take5_d_shorterer » 16 Jun 2009, 20:25

pig bodine wrote:14. Does the performer need to be visible?

Like PiL performing behind screens in New York in the early 80's (and inciting a riot?) It would bug me if I paid to see them.

15. For the sake of definition, let’s define “theatre” (in music) to be everything in the presentation of music that isn’t the actual sound itself. How important is “theatre” to you?

Not at all--The sound is what's important to me.



Can I ask pig bodine about the above? Finally someone has mentioned the infamous PiL gig. Actually there are some people on these boards who have seen (or rather should I say "heard") this show and seen its aftermath.

Is there some kind of contradiction in the answers to 14 and 15? This is the heart of why I set up these 17 or 18 questions.

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Re: Theatre and Music (>5 questions)

Postby Sneelock » 16 Jun 2009, 20:45

0. Imagine that for medical reasons you had to wear patches over both eyes. You have an opportunity to get tickets to go to a show for a band you're interested in. Do you go?
it would depend on the size and health of my goon squad on the day of the show.

1. How important are the song titles or album titles to you?
very. I think I'm the right age for that stuff. even a pot has a handle!

2. Would it degrade the listening experience substantially if you didn't have access to song titles or the name of the album, e.g., you got a CD-R with no information?
yes and no. it's a strange sort of liberation to hear music with no reference points. yeah, it's frustrating but it's a frustration that has a certain mystery to it. If I like a tune I'll want to know what it's called so I can call it up when I need it. I'd rather not yell like Tarzan at the apes but it'll do in a pinch.

3. When you go to a live performance, is it important to you to be as close as possible to the performers?
not at all. I like to see but I think of myself as being in the room with the sound they are making and close isn't always best for that.



4. Is there a distance beyond which you wouldn't bother to go see a live band? (i.e., if you had to sit/stand >300 ft. away as in a stadium gig, would you not go to the show?)
If they're playing across the street for free, I am SO there!


5. If you go to a piano recital, do you need to sit to the left of the auditorium?
no. I don't need anything. okay, I need this chair and that's all I need.

6. Is the physical appearance of the performer important?
yes. your eyeballs don't want to forget who to look at, do they?

7. Would you, for example, not pay to see a singer who was over 350 lbs.?
I'd be willing to pay extra!

8. Do you think that performers should "dress up" (e.g., glam rock costumes)?
should? yes. I think there should be a law. no one should be able to stand in front of a crowd unless they are dressed up. I think this is a good law.

9. Do you think performers should "dress down" (e.g., wear similar clothing to what the audience wears)?
yes. then I'll identify with them more and they are more likely to follow me home and be my best friends. forget what I said before.

9a. If you're going to see an opera, how important is it to you that the costumes and design be first-rate and costly?
I think opera as a whole would be much improved by making all costumes with scissors and old cereal boxes.

10. How much should performers be engaged with their audience in how they are presenting their work? For example, how much do you think should they be acknowledging the audience? This doesn't, by the way, necessarily have to be talking to the audience. It could be looking at or confronting the audience in some way.
I think every audience member deserves a text message at the very least.

11. Would it bother you if a performer played with his or her back to the audience?
not at all but I doubt it will happen. I mean, how will he or she know if we have our backs to him or her?

12. What if a performer played while reading music or charts and needed cues? What would you think about that?
my opinion of them increases because they can read music and I can't.

13. Would it bother you if a performer had to look constantly at his or her instrument while playing it?
not at all. it's a good way of knowing where the fingers go!

14. Does the performer need to be visible?
I'm told we have entered an unprecedented period of transparency so I don't see why.

15. For the sake of definition, let’s define “theatre” (in music) to be everything in the presentation of music that isn’t the actual sound itself. How important is “theatre” to you?
I think the presentation is the real juice to live performance. just the right hat can do the trick, so can the cock of an eyebrow. what's important is that there be something special about it. maybe it's just the night that's special - that happens sometimes and sometimes that's more than enough.