Category Archives: Music Research

The Fundamental Concept

As I’ve been reading and researching the background for my concept of Performance Design, I’ve been asked about the work frequently. This has prompted me to make sure to streamline the concept and make it possible to concisely explain it. In that spirit, here is a short set of bullets to attempt to clarify the idea.

  • It can be boiled down to a simple prescription for a change in mentality: 
    • A performer does not perform. A performer creates performances.
  • It follows that a performance is a created object (be it sound, visual, theatric, or some hybrid).
    • That act of creation can be broken down into three parts:
      • Design
      • Preparation
      • Execution
  • Performance Execution is the actual public act before an audience, what the public colloquially just calls the performance.
  • Performance Preparation
    • Practice
    • Rehearsal
  • Performance Design
    • I want to talk about  how to structure ones thinking around every other aspect prior to the concert.
  • The working glossary entry is “Performance Design: An interdiscipline which examines and prescribes the tools and methods for the construction of a public aesthetic performance. Includes those tools under the traditional rubric of “interpretation” (examining manuscripts, historical studies, structural analysis) but also includes music perception fields (music cognition, information theory and neuroscience), programming, venue selection, and marketing.”

And I would boil it all down to the idea that a performer in 2014 is equipped with advanced technical training in their instrument or voice (or dance or theater) but generally lacks the tools to holistically design a performance. 

It’s kind of like the Apple philosophy: I want to equip performers to design the “whole widget”. 

Please let me know what you think


Dots and Strokes in Mozart

Early Music, xxi

I mentioned when tweeting this post that:

This is not to say that I have all the answers, just that often don’t care for the answers I often receive from others, even those whom I generally respect. I don’t care for the ways people tend to approach rhythmic notation, ornaments, tempo markings, bowings, and articulations, to name only a few. Let’s just remember that he’s perhaps the most composer in history. Taking just the issue of staccato notation, we have great data on this, about which Neumann concludes in 1993:

“there seems to be little doubt that Mozart distinguished dots and strokes, and… distinguished the signs with deliber-ation where it did matter. By so doing he gave us price- less clues for a richer, more colourful, and sometimes more dramatic, range of expression than the score could suggest without the eloquence of the two signs.”

Mozart Quartet in D
Mozart Quartet in D

It’s unfortunate that not even the headline of these articles seems to get remembered, let alone Neumann’s 6 categories of differentiation. In short, I hope we can all get more serious about reading up on the composers we study and love instead of letting our 21st century sensibilities do all the decision-making for us.

Read more in Early Music:

Retrieved from JSTOR: Early Music, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Aug., 1993), pp. 429-435