What to Look For at the Concerts
Review the items below ahead of time, perhaps even bringing them with you! While it is important to be supportive of the performers and allow yourself to continue to simply enjoy the music, some added levels of appreciation and sensitivity can make your experience richer. Here are some things to consider and comment on in your paper. They will help you be more specific about your reactions.
One way to experience a work of art or a piece of music is to be completely innocent and receptive, and be aware, in effect, of how your body, mind, emotions, and spirit are transformed. You can essentially become the work and describe your experience. Describe the effect of this performance on your body, mind, and emotions.
A live performance can be a chance for the performer (and composer) to enter into communication with the audience. To what extent do you feel the performer or performers responded to what was happening in the room during the performance? (Maybe they didn’t!) Do you feel they were intimate and giving or simply going through the motions? Did they seem to be in familiar territory or were they “going for it,” digging deep into the material and discovering something as they played?
The performer’s state of consciousness has an effect on what is communicated. Did you feel the performer and/or conductor was emotional? intellectual? expanded? contracted? transported? fluid? enjoying? at ease? What were your clues? Were your clues physical, musical, or intuitive?
What visual elements contributed to the performance? If there was a conductor or bandleader, how did that influence your experience?
In the playing, was there sensitivity and variety in the dynamics? Did the tempo seem satisfying? Was the performer comfortable with periods of silence or very low volume? Did you feel that the music seemed to arise out of silence or was it purely active? If it was an ensemble, were the performers listening or communicating with each other? Was it different during solos (if any)? Was vocal music a part of the performance? If so, what qualities of voice were part of the style?
What musical forms or structures did you notice? Was there a good balance of repetition and contrast in these pieces? What aspects were inventive or surprising? Which elements were attractive–rhythm, harmony, melody, instrumentation? If any of the elements bothered you, why? If you were already familiar with any of the pieces or players, how did this performance differ from what you have heard? Why do you think the performer chose these pieces?
How did you react to any improvisation? Did it thrill you? Bother you? Why? Did it seem to transport the player? What about the other players? Could you continue to recognize the basic melody or parts of it? Did the music come to life or die during solos?
While you are there, think about some of the typical concert conventions. Why do you think people clap? How do you think that affects the performer and audience?
How did your expectations affect your experience? Did you feel different or changed in some way after the performance? Would you recommend this performer or any of the music to someone else?
How did having awareness of the aspects above affect your experience or enjoyment? If this is your second or third concert for this class, is your answer to this any different from what it was for the previous concert? If you have attended both jazz and classical or popular music concerts for this assignment, did this approach work well for both?
Miles Davis (1989)