I’ve enjoyed watching the crowds at concerts this July.
Walk Off The Earth, Elvis Costello and the Impressions, The Undertones (a Punk Band from Derry, Ireland), Sting, Peter Gabriel, Ian Tyson, Gillies Vonsattel (a New York concert pianist) – all were exceptional! And if you videoed the live crowds at each of these concerts, you’d get the vibe and energy of each show.
David Byrne wrote an excellent book titled “How Music Works” which he takes a hard line look at how art works and how it wraps itself around experiences such as the concerts I witnessed in July. The book is a smart expose into the “life affirming power of music”. Byrne was the founding member, principal songwriter, lead singer and guitarist of the American new wave band Talking Heads.
He reviews how music “rings true” to its style when performed in venues built particularly for that purpose. For example, Bach wrote and performed his music in a space where the pipe organ sounded large – he could modulate his compositions in various keys and the sound worked!
Mozart wrote for rooms in palaces where patrons wore elaborate dress – seated in a room with ornate decor. All of this would deaden the sound so the intricate detail of the music was most appreciated by the listener.
Early Jazz bands played big and loud in bars and joints that were small like the punk rock venues. The music could be heard over the chatter and the sound of dancers on wooden floors. Even now, jazz clubs are small and the music is big.
In the early 1900’s, music was introduced into spaces where audiences were not allowed to talk or eat during performances. Audiences sat immobile and listened.
My experiences this July captured it all – the loud call and response of crowd and performer, the focused listening of audiences close to the outdoor stage, the more passive listening of patrons on the grass far from the stage, the intense listening to the colour and detail of the piano in the concert recital and the thrashing of the crowd experiencing the loud fast paced, hard edged sound of punk music.
It all works! Enjoy the summer and all the music that is played during the season of sun!