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.