Some sociological issues of live music performance
This research seeks to explore some of the sociological aspects of live music performance contexts. Research into the impact of contemporary mechanical means of musical reproduction has tended to divert attention away from the study of live performance. But the two major music traditions in western Industrial societies, Western European Art Music (WEAM) and Afro-American have their origins in the pre-recording era. Consideration of the development of their forms must take into account the changing contexts within which they were performed. The development of notation coupled with the emphasis on composition within WEAM facilitated the rise of an aesthetic autonomy for the 'work' giving rise to the most appropriate context for its performance: the purpose built modern concert hall celebrating in its rituals and relations a particular form of aesthetic address. The Afro-American tradition with its roots in disadvantaged and dominated black culture, and its emphasis on improvisation rather than formal composition, is less autonomous and is mediated more closely by the social relations of the contexts within which it is performed. Observations of various performance venues was undertaken, using a comparative frame developed from that used by Qureshi (1987) modified to take into account the comrnodification of music in an economic market. Observations were supported by interviews of jazz musicians about attitudes to performance and preferred settings. Two venues have been selected for detailed consideration: The Royal Festival Hall (a classical concert) and The Pontalba Cafe (a Jazz cafe in New Orleans). On the basis of the observations, the Interviews and consideration of the current literature, models of aesthetic ideology are constructed. It is suggested that there is an homology between 'fixed' forms and 'tight' contexts and 'flexible' forms and 'loose' contexts.