Friday, May 23, 2014

Thinking like the new audience for concerts

Chip Michael has some excellent observations about present and future audiences for concerts.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Michael is his own music self-announced director of the Twitter Symphony. A bit can be found at Given the article about millenials and audiences, one notes that his audience as well as performers are separated by e-distance all the while being joined together by e-distance. Who is in his audience? I wager few, though the ensuing views via YouTube would be more. So "in an audience" now must mean all those who also listen via YouTube, radio and recording, video and broadcast. That being said, the live Met broadcasts had huge audiences. But only those in the theater saw the real event live. Do we mean live audiences held together by united attendance at an event, or now do we mean audiences as anyone who listens sometime, somewhere and somehow? If the later is true, then I am in the "audience" for a Caruso performance, though he died long ago. Muddling words seems the modern penchant, alongside self-promotion. But the work, not the flamboyance of the individual, is the question for me. In that regard, a Twitter symphony is not attending the New York Phil nor the Erocia, and will never be. It's just something else. Given the up and down of Twitter stock prices and new and competing entries for social media, I wager Beethoven will be around long after Twitter and Twitter symphonies are a footnote at best in the history of our passion -- music. Future audiences? If they are informed in school and exposed to fine music, the future is assured. If the political and self-promotional world fails, oddly I suspect it will only be a generation before Beethoven is re-discovered. As was Bach, Mozart and more. Flamboyance and jargon are not a substitute for patience as well as quality work and workmanship, nor do they seem to offer such good advice, or so it seems to me.

Elaine Fine said...

As a member of the "over 50" crowd with many of my closest friends a decade or two (or three, but who's counting), I don't have any fondness for the idea of a virtual "e" audience, or a twitter orchestra, but I do appreciate a bit of translation concerning reaching people who might be interested in hearing music in actual performing spots. I agree that live performances of music by Beethoven (and scads of other worthwhile composers) will outlive and outshine electronic media that tells people where they can find it, but keeping up with the changes in the media itself is a challenge. I have never tweeted, and don't really understand what twitter has to do with music, but there are a whole lot of people under the age of 40 who do.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reply. Given that making music in a duo or larger is a personal interaction, it seems to me that the e-folks and their twitter symphonies risk the largest error in thinking that such is not social in the personal and immediate form. Your posts from time to time of your kids singing and playing, or of your own as well, suggest that music is "for people" and "by people," but in a very special way. Together, in the same room, be it concert hall or a room of a home. There seems no substitute for that, as I think of church choirs or chamber groups playing together -- together in the same place. It is social, personal and immediate. As to "change," your PDF editions of scores might be the replacement for photocopies which replaced ozalid process copies which replaced press-printed music which replaced hand notation, but all remain essentially the same thing. This suggests to me that "changes" are only surface things, not issues of content and quality. That "whole lot of people under the age of 40" will impress when more Mozarts or Gershwins are found among them. But how will we notice? Not by the technological changes, but by the content. Unlike so many of my contemporaries who posit such things as "can there be new classical composers" and the like, I think the surface noise of modern marketing obscures something on which your thoughtful considerations touch. Musical assumptions do not change all that much, I suspect, anymore than notation, from Burgundian notations to Finale and Sibelius engraving e-tools. So the underling assumption for me as regards "new" is that in only a generation every "new" will be "old." For this, we are already looking at the "old" twitter symphony and such, and the remaining question is a matter of watching the clock tick. Will it, a piece or a genre, add significantly, marginally or not at all to the longer bow -- a nod to you as a string player -- of music history. I suspect it adds not so much. The "under 40" in a century will all be pushing up their daisies, and what remains will remain. André Malraux said something to the effect that civilizations create their heritage out of the past which assists in surpassing today's civilization. So how does one surpass Beethoven? Or Ravel? With a twitter symphony? Probably not. And after the PDF file as standard is put aside, an next IMSLP will convert all the good into the next data convention, including those old scores. And yours too. The nifty thing about technology seems to be that it can capture and preserve our past as well as present. Millenials? Just another coined word, like GenX and Baby Booomer, but as the liturgy says, l'dor vador. In so few years the Millenials will be creaky old folks, sort of like the old Boulez confronting the young radical Boulez' statement that "old" should be discarded to make way for the "new." He has recanted, no surprise. Tweet is still a word about birds, to me view. Happy Springtime in your musical neck of the woods.