Connecting People Through Music

My research focuses on the various ways in which people interact with and contribute to live music using sound. The primary aspect of this communication is through applause and other indications of approval (or disapproval). However, live music brings a host of various other noises from an audience. For example, many genres of music encourage singing along or clapping in time with a song. The music is often not an unchanging work to be observed, but rather an experience for musician and listener alike as they work together to create their sonic community. My research coincides with my group’s theme of belonging and identity because across cultures, music is a universal mode of creating societal bonds. Such bonds are forged through sharing a common experience; the musicians and listeners play and react and communicate on an equal plane. Researching the ways in which listeners communicate with musicians during the music is important to understanding how music is used to bring members of a society together.

Here is a video of a flamenco dancer and band in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Flamenco is a fascinating example of the kind of interactions I am researching, because the music relies on its listeners’ own rhythmic contributions. In the video, notice that the dancers all clap along to the beat. This is typical of flamenco culture, and it serves two important purposes. First, it provides a strong percussive facet. Second, it opens up a way for every person listening to the music, whether they are playing an instrument or dancing or not, to participate and feel as if they are a part of it. Even the dancer contributes the sound of her shoes. This video is a strong example of the role of music with belonging.

3 thoughts on “Connecting People Through Music

  1. I see a lot of themes in this topic that I am exploring as well, it’s fascinating stuff! I particularly like the potential direction you might take with regards to the extreme variation in crowd involvement and participation depending on the genre of music. Comparing EDM to a classical concert, to live flamenco, to the call and response of some hip hop, etc. could say a lot about the kind of people who choose these types of music. It will be interesting to see what you will be able to find on how people interact with their preferred forms of music, how their interactions are different from those of other music communities, and what those behaviors may say about the different cultures.

  2. I’m excited to see the rest of your research. This is so interesting because it’s so apparent–you go to a jazz concert where the musicians improvise, and the audience whoops and cheers in the middle of the musician’s playing, whereas at a classical piano recital, it would be completely inappropriate to do so. Modern music is yet another example, like at a dubstep/electronica concert versus Bruce Springsteen. It’s fascinating how the audience always seems to know what they’re supposed to do because of the establishment of social norms.

  3. Cool topic—I really like the usage flamenco dancing as an example. Onlooking dancers all clapping to the beat definitely promotes the visual interpretation of unity; despite the fact that only one person is dancing, the constituent audience members work together in contributing to, and actually becoming a part of, the performance. I’m interested as to where your research will go with respect to the relationships between listeners and musicians, and society and music.

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