Performer and Listener

Glenn Gould once said the ideal ratio of performer to audience is 1:0.  The meaning I take is that an artist should hold themselves to their own standard.  This quote was during the time when he became fascinated with making recordings of pieces and really crafting a piece through multiple takes and splicing.  He quit performing live because conditions were never ideal. 

At this point in time, a pianist is lucky to have an instrument provided for them, let alone one in an acoustically appropriate room that is regularly maintained and tuned.  While I still enjoy a grand piano more than an electronic keyboard, I have accepted the reality that I often have to perform on one, and have found a setup I like.  Here is a clip of one of my favourite pianists creating great music on a Casio keyboard that costs less than what most concert music venues spend on six months of piano tunings.

Miles Davis and Bob Dylan both occasionally performed with their back to the audience, the idea being that their audience is there to hear them, not to watch them.  Cannonball Adderley, on the other hand, took time to introduce his material and give the audience insight into what they were about to hear.  My feeling on this is that you have to look at each performing situation.  My goal when I perform is to give people information about my music if they are unlikely to already know it.  That is, a small jazz club crowd doesn't need to hear me announce a tune that they probably know, whereas a crossover concert audience in a classical venue might like hear a few words.  The only thing I really disagree with is confusing or even antagonizing your audience.  It has been done.

Leave a comment

Add comment