Music Scenes: Reflections on Performance

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From the birth of recorded popular music to the emergence of auto-tune and other digital audio tools, anxieties over the “death” of live performance have run rampant. Most recently, Beyonce’s admission to singing along to a pre-recorded track at President Obama’s inauguration led one writer at The Telegraph to state, “Miming will be the death of live music performance… singers who lip-sync during concerts insult their audience and undermine their peers.” Indeed, entire genres of music—from classical to hip-hop—are perceived to literally live and die based on the vibrancy of their live performance scenes. Academics have been equally suspicious of “threats” to live performance, questioning the validity of writing about an art form whose public reception is often experienced in such an ephemeral and fleeting manner. The emergence of interdisciplinary fields and methods such as Sound Studies, Performance Studies, and Sensory Ethnography attest to these concerns. As Carolyn Abbate asks in her controversial article “Music—Drastic or Gnostic”: “Where are material presence and carnality, where has live performance gone, when it produced our love for music to begin with?” Yet, despite these fears, many musicians continue to use public performance as a primary creative and financial outlet, audiences continue to attend sold out shows and festivals, and industries continue to thrive on the live music market. (Original CFP)

Creating Space for Creative Music at LA’s Blue Whale, by Alex W. Rodriguez

Listening for Liveness, by Darren Mueller

“Youngstown”: Springsteen’s Representation of a City Affected by the New Depression, by Sara Gulgas

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