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:
- Performance Execution is the actual public act before an audience, what the public colloquially just calls the performance.
- Performance Preparation
- 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
To be clear, I don’t know feel like people who use Twitter are supposed to use it in any specific way, but I am aware of scholarship that suggests online networks do not reliably lead to exploration and communication between groups that do not normally interact with each other offline. To this end, I’ve seen the following question posed a number of times in my feed, “how often to you actually listen to the music made by the people you follow?”
My self-consciousness on this subject made me ripe for the influence of another source, which contributed enormously to my decision: Howard S. Becker’s tremendous book Art Worlds. Becker, a sociologist and jazz pianist, investigates the networks of intra-group activity that contribute to the production, distribution and evaluation of works of art. Becker proposes an understanding of aesthetics, which was very new to me and the way my education has portrayed this concept: aesthetics result from collective activity. Intrigued by the idea that aesthetics happen instead of disseminate from the persuasively communicated ideals, I began to wonder how I could put Becker’s view to the test with myself and my peer composers…..
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I happen to love him, but I completely agree with the ethos of anti-hero-worship.