Two approaches to musical performance

I thought this was a really interesting analysis which captures a split in my own musical tastes, as an interest in provocative music co-exists uneasily with a desire for collective experience through live music:

Afro-American music is still cherished for its tragic yet affirmative sense of life. But it got shoved aside in the late 1960s, when a wave of “avant-rock” musicians began to adopt artistic ideas and practices from the European avant-garde.8 The most influential of these adoptions was the notion of performance as an assault by a raging, radical, revolté artist on a dull, conventional, bourgeois audience. The contrast could not be greater with the Afro-American understanding of performance as a ritual led by a musician able to channel and express the full range of emotions felt by a beloved community, whether worshipers in a church, dancers in a juke joint, or patrons in an upscale jazz club.

https://hedgehogreview.com/issues/america-on-the-brink/articles/taming-the-furies

Those collective experiences are inherently integrative, even if they take place within a self-enclosed musical world distinct from the mainstream. However a deeply conservative thought follows from this which I find troubling: is avant-garde music inherently corrosive of social integration?Obviously there can be a shared experience in being ‘assaulted’ by a ‘raging, radical, revolté artist’ but is it integrative? Does it rely upon and reproduce what Donati calls relational goods?

2 thoughts on “Two approaches to musical performance

  1. I think both examples are iimited in their ‘inegrative’ aspects – as is implied in the word ‘performance’ – to be truly integrative the difference between ‘audience’ and ‘performer’ needs to dissolved into a single ‘category’ of music maker(s). Colin Ward has written an interesting article that hints at this – his study of music-making in Milton Keynes. An observable example of this is also folk-music in pubs, where audience members join in with the performers in singing traditional songs. I have also observed other real-life examples – for example I came across a small group of girls sitting in a corner of a large garden singing pop-songs together, or groups sitting on the pavements singing in groups on the Paris pavements after midnight. Choir rehearsals might also come in the same cateegory, and teenage-boy ‘garage bands’. Of course this raises other questions – can innovation come from these group experiences, or does that require commercially driven ‘performance’? Or is the abolition of ‘performance’ now the truly innovative practice?
    Martyn
    .

  2. I find that really plausible. I can see how the distinction between performer/performed inherently limits the group experience which can flow from it. But what about those people who have no musical capacities? Or perhaps that judgement is part of the problem.

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