"If you grew up thinking that the stage/arena show is what live music is supposed to be, it’s jarring to be confronted with a band playing two feet in front of you, running into you, spitting in your face, hitting you with their instruments."
For the past several months I’ve been writing about virtual space and how meaning is created in that sort of medium. One of the core principles of space is that your actions partially define its meaning and vice versa. For that reason I think a good capstone to this work would be a discussion of the dynamic of meaning creation through space in a setting that’s familiar for many: your own house.
There’s a great TED talk given by David Byrne on the relationship between architecture and music venues (“David Byrne: How Architecture Helped Music Evolve”, TED, June 2010). The way people would engage and listen to music has an intrinsic relationship with the space they’re in. It wasn’t until 1872 that the concept of not being drunk and jabbering while someone was playing music became popular. This was mostly because of the changing design of opera houses such as Wagner’s Bayreuth Festspielhaus or Carnegie Hall. A quiet audience means that you can have more nuanced and complex music that will actually be heard, the singer does not have to scream. This dynamic exists with technology as well. A small club, before the advent of microphones, meant that you had to play loud and heavy music to be heard. Once the microphone was invented, crooning and much quieter songs became an option. Music in a giant arena typically has to take the form of a ballad to be coherently understood by the audience. An Ipod, on the other hand, allows for extremely nuanced and complicated music but has to always be at a certain volume, or you’ll make the listener go deaf. Since so much of music is defined by the space that it is being performed in, Byrne comments, “The passion is always there, but the vessel is what is created first.”