Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Three Tiers of Intimacy: You, Me, and the Audience

The idea of there being three tiers of intimacy during a musical performance occurred to me after a concert I played with the Willard Dyson Quartet in Prishtina, Kosovo as a part of the 2014 Prishtina Jazz Festival.  Immediately after our performance, a news station conducted interviews with everyone in the band to get our impression of Kosovo and how well the concert went. The question the reporter asked me was two-fold: "How did I find the Prishtina audience? and "Do audiences matter?"

My response went something like this:

"A jazz performance contains a series of relationships, each feeding the other. (1) There's the individual relationship that each musician has with his or her instrument, (2) there's the collective relationship between the performers on stage, and (3) there's the communal relationship between the performers on stage and the audience: three tiers of intimacy.

In order for a musical performance to be effective, these three levels of communication must be in full effect.

If the individual performer is not making a connection with his or her instrument, then he or she will not be able to effectively communicate with other members in the group. And if members of the group are not able to communicate with each other, then the performance as a whole will lack chemistry. If the performance lacks chemistry, the audience will be less excited and will be less responsive.

If the audience is less responsive, then the players will feel little energy from the audience. If there's little energy from the audience the players feel less inspired. And the downward spiral continues. So to answer your question: Yes. The audience matters."

So for all of you concertgoers, the lesson here is this: The next time you attend a concert, just remember that even though you're not
on stage, you still matter. Rest assured that your contribution extends far beyond making sure that the venue makes a profit and that the performers get paid.

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