“Musicians Union says Keep Music Live!”.
That was the message I remember, on a large, yellow sticker on the instrument cases of “real musicians”. Although, when I first saw this message I was a child just learning music, so anyone older/taller/more confident than me qualified as a “professional” in my mind. It didn’t rule many people out.
I didn’t really understand the message at the time. What was the big deal about Live Music? Isn’t a recording just as entertaining? What did I care whether the sound was coming across a stage or out of a speaker?
The difference is becoming more and more obvious to me. The fact is, our eyes effect what our ears hear. I heard this recently from a guest conductor of the LA Philharmonic, who told me that the brightness of the newly-designed concert hall also made the sound quality “bright”. I looked sceptical, but he assured me it was a known phenomenon. Our eyes and ears are, in some ways, synthesizing the same information to create a unified experience. Don’t ask me how it works. I just hope your experience leads you to agree with me, or at least accept the possibility.
Yesterday I took part in a live concert, culminating in a cello solo which brought the audience to its feet. In their faces, as well as in their applause, I saw the impact of a live performance. All of their senses had been engaged, and their whole body responded by leaping up. It was a gratifying to know they had enjoyed the performance so much, but also to know that people perpetually numbed by TV, movies, emails and texting, can still respond to other human beings in that way. But their enthusiasm also gave away a hint of prior sensory deprivation. I suspect an absence of live entertainment really had made their hearts grow fonder.
I think this absence of face-to-face contact affects our experience, not just of live music, but of everyday life. Technology is making communication easier, but in turning towards it (sometimes sprinting towards it), we are running away from the richness of one-on-one interactions. It’s easy to fool ourselves that it’s not doing any harm. But when faced with real live personal interaction, our emotional response gives us away.
So maybe the Musicians Union had a good point. But, I think we should expand their message….
“Keep Music, Conversations and Relationships LIVE!”
The big yellow sticker for the 21st century…..