The Technological Changes of Music Production

As the world becomes more technologically advanced, we see can observe many changes that have taken place. Music production is an area where this is just as apparent. If we look back just 100 years, more technologically advanced countries are almost unrecognizable from their dated counterpart. Music has almost fundamentally changed over the years. But, how has ever-advancing technology changed the core of music production? This paper sets out to observe the recording process to collaboration and the changes that have taken place as technology has advanced, beginning with the recording process.

One of the first and most fundamental changes that has taken place in music production is the recording process. When music was first being recorded and produced, the musicians all had to get together in one room and record their song until they all played their parts perfectly and with minimal error. The song structure was strictly limited to what the band had decided on, before any recording took place. The sound of the instruments and vocals were also pre-determined. A lot of thought and effort went into writing and practicing this so that their song would sound exactly as they had planned. The effort was all in the pre-recording phase. Today, most of the effort goes into editing in the post-recording process.

Unlike music that was recorded in the past, song structure and overall sound is developed after the recording has taken place. The pre-recording process still requires a certain amount of preparation and planning. However, the majority of the work takes place after the recording is finished. The artist is no longer limited by what the instrument or vocals sound like as they are being recorded. Any recording can be tweaked and altered to fit whatever sound they desire. If the artist or producer prefers a higher octave or a different note in the recorded vocals, they can simply edit it without needing the vocalist to come back in and re-record it. This opens up incredible possibilities of song structure and sound that can have an intense effect of the mood of the listener.

When thinking about how the song is to be structured and what mood the listener should feel, the artist is open to a wide variety of possibilities. In electronic dance music (EDM), the song’s structure plays a huge roll in the effect the song has on the listeners. There are many different techniques that are used in EDM specifically used to hype the crowd up. The techniques are used to give the listener to feeling of being lifted off of the ground, filled with anticipation, and then dropped back down to the ground. These techniques are analyzed and explained in an article called “Waiting for the bass to drop” by Ragnhild Torvanger Solberg. Solberg used commonly used terms such as “build up”, “drop”, and “uplifters” to describe the production techniques that are used. He also introduces a new term, which he calls the “drum roll effect(Solberg). The “Build up” refers to the part of the song that gives the listener an increased feeling of being lifted. “Uplifters” refer to the kinds of effects the artist will use to enhance a “build up” section. The “drop” is the part of the song, at the end of a “build up”, where the listener gets the sensation of being dropped back down to the ground after the feeling of being lifted. He describes the “drum roll effect” as “a frequently used technique in newer EDM where the prominent rhythmical pattern, often the snare drum, becomes increasingly divided until the return of the core, starting out with quarter notes and culminating in a drum roll right before the bass drops and the bass drum returns.”(Solberg) Solberg’s article goes onto explain the effects by using a spectrogram of a song’s (“Icarus” by ‘Madeon’) wavelengths to provide a visual of the production that takes place.

music

You can see from the image that the song’s frequencies show a clearly visual increase as it approaches the drop and into the core section of the song. These production techniques create an unmatchable mood shift that can only be achieved through modern, post-recorded editing techniques. This fundamental change in technology opens the artist up to be able to alter the sound bytes to intensify the emotion desired. This technology allows artists to move away from the idea of writing a song and recording the “one perfect take” to more compositional piece in which the artist has total control. This opens the floor up for an even greater element of creativity: collaboration.

With each artist’s album release, each album gets better, or more complex. This complexity can be viewed as the artist growing and mastering his or her craft. This is without a doubt a factor in the evolution of all artists during their careers. However, one big reason that the music becomes more complex and involved is the new people and technology that they are introduced to through the technology of music production and producers.

The average person does not give much thought into the amount of production and collaboration that goes into making this new album what it is, which is mostly done by relatively anonymous producers. In some cases, the original artist has little to do with the overall sound of the album. The record company will generally hire experienced producers and engineers to master and re-master the song ideas. The artist may have originally written the song on an acoustic guitar to plan out what chords, timing, and vocal melody he or she wants the song to incorporate. Then, the artist will sit down with a producer and begin to record. The producer, depending on the artist’s contract with the record company, has the final say in what chords to actually use and what lyrics to sing whether the artist wants this or not. Typically, it’s, economically, for the better, because the producer has a better feel for what demographic the particular artist is appealing to. Max Martin is a famed record producer with over 17 #1 hits that he either co-wrote and/or produced. Including: Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, “E.T.” 2011, Maroon 5, “One More Night,” 2012, and Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” 2012(Billboard). “He ranks behind only Paul McCartney, with 32, and John Lennon with 26(Billboard). This is an amazing feat in the field of music writing. That being said, it’s astounding to think that he is still relatively unknown to the average person. These top artists owe a huge debt to Martin for his expertise in writing and mastering their songs. His skill in appealing to the masses and, particularly, to the artist’s target demographic. In an interview, Martin said this, “I think the ‘target market’ and ‘audience’ tends to come with the artist. If I’m doing something with a young pop artist I may not choose to have a brass section in a song, for example. Sometimes you have to think about what the artist already is”(Ask Billboard). Although these producers work behind the scenes, popular music today would not be the same or, arguably, as good without their expertise and the technology they use to master the tracks. Technological changes and the exploitation of collaboration have no doubt changed the direction, style and execution of music. But, there is some controversy surrounding one element of collaboration. Often times, a less consensual form of execution. This is called sampling.

As one listens to popular music, whether it is on the radio or in one’s own personal collection, one cannot help but to hear a piece of another artist’s music embedded within. This can be subtle to the point that it goes unnoticed by the average person. It could be in the vocals, a guitar lick, or something as small as the drum kick that only comes in once every 3 bars of music. But it is, in essence, a rip off of the original artist. This technique is called sampling. The perspective of the original artist varies case by case. Some are ok with the idea of hearing their voice or drum beat incorporated into other songs. Others are furious that their work has been copied and pasted into someone else’s work for their own benefit.

There is a lot of gray area to this issue. There are laws in place to help rectify the matter. But, is this enough to keep all parties happy? Even in the event that strict permission is given, there have been parties that have felt wronged. An article by Molly Mcgraw helps shed some light onto this issue. She tells the story of David Johnson and Jan Hammer. “David Earl Johnson who allowed computer-keyboardist Jan Hammer to sample his drum sounds on rare, eighty-year-old Nigerian conga drums. Later, after Johnson recognized his drum sounds running through the entire Miami Vice soundtrack, he sought payment for what he perceived to be his contribution to the composition. He was told by Hammer’s manager that he wanted ‘money for doing nothing’ and the American Federation of Musicians refused to take his case.”(law.berkeley.edu) In this case, there was arguably nothing done wrong by Hammer. He asked for permission to use Johnson’s drums sample and Johnson gave it. Johnson could have been more specific about the limit of usage of these. But even the legal system has no test case that a court can use in a copyright case. Each lawsuit must be individually decided on a case-by-case basis based on whether the sample used is original to the plaintiff. The law states that “Originality denotes only enough definite expression so that one may distinguish authorship, i.e., there must be an identifiable element of personality.” (law.berkeley.edu) So, with these safeguards in place, it makes it easier for artists to win in a lawsuit against copyright infringement. However, the problem lies in whether or not the original artist’s music can be discernable on the track. Frank Zappa was the first to fully protect a full album from copyright infringement from sampling down to the wave pattern level. It requires more effort and money to get this type of protection than what is provided at default from simply recording and distributing an album. Should the law be changed to protect the artist further by default? This issue definitely deserves some more legal attention to decide what the limits should be in regards to sampling. However, this advance in technology has the ability to enhance the effectiveness that music has on mood the listener.

As music becomes more digital and become stored into massive databases online, it creates an incredible archive in which one can pick just the right elements to create a composition of emotion and intensity. In a book by Ann Cvetkovich called An Archive of Feelings she talks about an “archive in which my own feelings are deposited”(Cvetkovich) that the artist Le Tigre created with the songs they played at a live concert. This same concept can be applied to the archive of recorded music available online. Through the advances in technology, an artist can select and modify any one sample of another artist’s work and, with permission, can create an emotional masterpiece for the world to become engulfed by. This level of depth could not be achieved without the more recent advances in technology. And it is exciting to see what the future holds for musical technology and production.

Works Cited

“Ask Billboard: Max Martin Notches Another No. 1.” Billboard. N.p., n.d. Web.<http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/6327746/ask-billboard-max-martin-notches-another-no-1&gt;.

Cvetkovich, Ann. Archive of Feelings. N.p., n.d. Print.

“Max Martin Interview – Popjustice.” Popjustice RSS. N.p., 27 Apr. 2009. Web.<http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/max-martin-interview/49884/&gt;.

“SOUND SAMPLING PROTECTION AND INFRINGEMENT.” SOUND SAMPLING PROTECTION AND INFRINGEMENT. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://www.law.berkeley.edu/journals/btlj/articles/vol4/McGraw/HTML/text.html&gt;.

TORVANGER SOLBERG, RAGNHILD. “Waiting For The Bass To Drop”: Correlations Between Intense Emotional Experiences And Production Techniques In Build-Up And Drop Sections Of Electronic Dance Music.” Dancecult: Journal Of Electronic Dance Music Culture 6.1 (2014): 61-82. Academic Search Complete. Web.

Archive of Essays

As I write this last blog post, I cant help but to think of how this blog has become such a vast collection of knowledge, opinions and, in some cases, expertise on different aspects of technology and technologies. When I first enrolled in this class, I had a very vague idea of what technologies really were. I envisioned them as only computer-related systems and machines. However, I learned that the word “technology” has been around much longer than computers.

From our first few topics surrounding the political aspects of certain artifacts I was a little surprised that I was not the only person to make a blog post about something music-related. I chose to write about the political dimension of the iPod. And, to my surprise, someone wrote on almost the same topic. This continued to happen throughout the semester with future blog posts and even formed the basis of the group presentation that I was a part of.

It is no doubt that my key interest involves music and as I look back at the key words of our blog, I can see that I’m not alone in finding music interesting enough to write my blogs on the topic. As I click the music tab. The archive of music-related topics is almost overwhelming to read. It is extremely helpful to be able to reflect on these other student’s perspectives. Whether I’m reading for a deeper insight on a particular topic or simply reading for fun, I can see a great advantage to having this archive of music at my disposal.

The best part about this massive archive is that it doesn’t stop at music. It is incredible to click a topic that we were prompted to write about and see such a diverse display of interests and knowledge ranging from the analysis of apocalyptic fear to neuroprosthetics. The topics seem almost endless. It is hard to imagine that this massive archive took just a very short amount of time to build.

Over the semester, we were instructed to comment on each other’s blogs for a few of our assignments. I found this to be a very rewarding experience because it gave me an opportunity to actually take time out to read several other topics of my choice. It was interesting to both learn a new topic and expand my knowledge on a topic. If I were not instructed to do this, I probably would not have taken the time out to read some of these topics at all. I would have been too focused on my own music-related topic to step back and take a look at all the other topics that were at my disposal.

Overall, I’m glad that I had the opportunity to contribute to this blog. It was an eye-opening experience that I may even take further into my spare time. I was aware of blogs and many other sites that are a compilation of ideas and opinions. But, until recently, I had never been a part of one. While on vacation, or after a graduate, I may have to create or find a blog site to contribute to and create a similar archive of ideas.

Personal Reflection – Live Music

The main reason I have been brought to writing about live music stems from my childhood love of music. It started early in my life when my mom would play music throughout the house as I would play with toys, or whatever I did when I was a little kid. I remember her always playing the local Christian radio station: 104.9. As I was growing up, I remember wanting to branch away from that style of music and see what other types there were. This started my true passion for music. I started to see for my self how many genres of music there are and how each one can affect you mood in different ways. This added to the appeal I was already developing toward music.

When I was around 10 or 11, my parents came home from a neighborhood yard sale. They gave me my first acoustic guitar. Looking back at the guitar, it was in terrible condition. But, I didn’t know the difference. I had a church that I grew up in and there was a guy there that would play an acoustic guitar for service. I asked him to teach me how to play and he showed me the main four chords: G, C, D, and E. From there, I self taught myself to play by reading tutorials and listening to music and trying to imitate it the best I could. This solidified my interest in music, specifically toward live music.

After a while of learning to play guitar, and along with going to a few different churches, I was introduced to a pastor that was in need of some more instruments in the music that was played at his church. Adding instruments would create more depth to his services. This was important to him to enhance the overall mood of either praise or prayer. This experience was valuable to me to see the effect playing music for an audience and the mood that you are about to contribute to.

My love for live music started early. I’ve been to so many concerts that it’s difficult to place which concert was my first. I remember the local radio announcing when some of my favorite bands were coming to town and I always made an effort to go out to them. When I would go to a show I was always drawn to the energetic environment that the concert had. I typically went to hardcore and metal concerts, which have an incredible amount of energy to them. In addition to this energy of the crowd, I was amazed at the fact that something that an artist created had such a profound effect on such a large amount of people. In seeing them jump around and perform, the band member seemed moved by their own music as well. This may or may not have been an element of their stage performance, but it had a profound effect of the audience. This added to the desire to listen, learn, and now perform music.

I found out early on that forming a band is a little more difficult to accomplish than I originally thought. However it was still a good time to get together with my brother and play guitar while he played drums. I’ve had many fond memories of getting together with like-minded friends and playing music with them. Being around people with similar interests in music, along with my experiences with concerts has given me a strong bias toward how I perceive this topic.

The Audio Sampling Controversy

Listening to a song in popular music, whether it is on the radio or in one’s own personal collection, one cannot help but to hear a piece of another artist’s music embedded within. This can be subtle to the point that it goes unnoticed by the average person. It could be in the vocals, a guitar lick, or something as small as the drum kick that only comes in once every 3 bars of music. But it is, in essence, a rip off of the original artist. This is called sampling. The perspective of the original artist varies case by case. Some are ok with the idea of hearing their voice or drum beat incorporated into other songs. Others are furious that their work has been copied and pasted into someone else’s work for their own benefit. The key objective behind this paper is to ask the question: When is it justifiable to sample without permission?

There is a lot of gray area to this issue. There are laws in place to help rectify the matter. But, is this enough to keep all parties happy? Even in the event that strict permission is given, there have been parties that have felt wronged. An article by Molly Mcgraw helps shed some light onto this issue. She tells the story of David Johnson and Jan Hammer. “David Earl Johnson who allowed computer-keyboardist Jan Hammer to sample his drum sounds on rare, eighty-year-old Nigerian conga drums. Later, after Johnson recognized his drum sounds running through the entire Miami Vice soundtrack, he sought payment for what he perceived to be his contribution to the composition. He was told by Hammer’s manager that he wanted ‘money for doing nothing’ and the American Federation of Musicians refused to take his case.”(1) In this case, there was arguably nothing done wrong by Hammer. He asked for permission to use Johnson’s drums sample and Johnson gave it. Johnson could have been more specific about the limit of usage of these. But even the legal system has no test case that a court can use in a copyright case. Each lawsuit must be individually decided on a case-by-case basis based on whether the sample used is original to the plaintiff. The law states that “Originality denotes only enough definite expression so that one may distinguish authorship, i.e., there must be an identifiable element of personality.”(1) So, with these safeguards in place, it makes it easier for artists to win in a lawsuit against copyright infringement. However, the problem lies in whether or not the original artist’s music can be discernable on the track. Frank Zappa was the first to fully protect a full album from copyright infringement from sampling down to the wave pattern level. It requires more effort and money to get this type of protection than what is provided at default from simply recording and distributing an album. Should the law be changed to protect the artist further by default? This issue definitely deserves some more legal attention to decide what the right decision is.

Footnotes:

  1. “SOUND SAMPLING PROTECTION AND INFRINGEMENT.” SOUND SAMPLING PROTECTION AND INFRINGEMENT. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://www.law.berkeley.edu/journals/btlj/articles/vol4/McGraw/HTML/text.html&gt;.

Production in Electronic Music

When music was first being recorded and produced, the musicians all had to get together in one room and record their song until they all played their parts perfectly and with minimal error. The song structure was strictly limited to what the band had decided on before any recording took place. The sound of the instruments and vocals were also pre-determined. A lot of thought and effort went into writing and practicing this so that their song would sound exactly as they had planned. The effort was all in the pre-recording phase. Today, most of the effort goes into editing in the post-recording process.

Unlike music that was recorded in the past, song structure and overall sound is developed after the recording has taken place. The pre-recording process still requires a certain amount of preparation and planning. However, the majority of the work takes place after the recording is finished. The artist is no longer limited by what the instrument or vocals sound like as they are being recorded. Any recording can be tweaked and altered to fit whatever sound they desire. If the artist or producer prefers a higher octave or a different note in the recorded vocals, they can simply edit it without needing the vocalist to come back in and re-record it. This opens up incredible possibilities of song structure and sound that can have an intense effect of the mood of the listener.

When thinking about how the song is to be structured, the artist is open to a wide variety of possibilities. In electronic dance music (EDM), the song’s structure plays a huge roll in the effect the song has on the listeners. There are many different techniques that are used in EDM specifically used to hype the crowd up. The techniques are used to give the listener to feeling of being lifted off of the ground, filled with anticipation, and then dropped back down to the ground. These techniques are analyzed and explained in an article called “Waiting for the bass to drop” by Ragnhild Torvanger Solberg. Solberg used commonly used terms such as “build up”, “drop”, and “uplifters” to describe the production techniques that are used. He also introduces a new term, which he calls the “drum roll effect”(1). The “Build up” refers to the part of the song that gives the listener an increased feeling of being lifted. “Uplifters” refer to the kinds of effects the artist will use to enhance a “build up” section. The “drop” is the part of the song, at the end of a “build up”, where the listener gets the sensation of being dropped back down to the ground after the feeling of being lifted. He describes the “drum roll effect” as “a frequently used technique in newer EDM where the prominent rhythmical pattern, often the snare drum, becomes increasingly divided until the return of the core, starting out with quarter notes and culminating in a drum roll right before the bass drops and the bass drum returns.”(1) Solberg’s article goes onto explain the effects by using a spectrogram of a song’s (“Icarus” by ‘Madeon’) wavelengths to provide a visual of the production that takes place.

music

You can see from the image that the song’s frequencies show a clearly visual increase as it approaches the drop and into the core section of the song. These production techniques create an unmatchable mood shift that can only be achieved through modern, post-recorded editing techniques.

Footnotes:

1. TORVANGER SOLBERG, RAGNHILD. “Waiting For The Bass To Drop”: Correlations Between Intense Emotional Experiences And Production Techniques In Build-Up And Drop Sections Of Electronic Dance Music.” Dancecult: Journal Of Electronic Dance Music Culture 6.1 (2014): 61-82. Academic Search Complete. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

Music Production

Listening to musical artist is an excellent pastime for many people across the world. Most people listen primarily to the artists that they like or hear on the radio. Over time, people get an idea for the artists that they like and continue to listen to that same artist, keep up with that artist, and buy every album they release. In most cases, they begin enjoy the sound that this artist has developed over the years. Typically, with each consecutive album release, each album gets better, or more complex. This complexity can be viewed as the artist growing and mastering his or her craft. This is without a doubt a factor in the evolution of all artists during their careers. However, one big reason that the music becomes more complex and involved is the new people and technology that they are introduced to through the technology of music production and producers.

People do not give much though to the amount of producing technology that goes into making this new album what it is, which is mostly done by relatively anonymous producers. In some cases, the original artist has little to do with the overall sound of the album. The record company will generally hire experienced producers and engineers to master and re-master the song ideas. The artist may have originally written the song on an acoustic guitar to plan out what chords, timing, and vocal melody he or she wants the song to incorporate. Then, the artist will sit down with a producer and begin to record. The producer, depending on the artist’s contract with the record company, has the final say in what chords to actually use and what lyrics to sing whether the artist wants this or not. Typically, it’s for the better, because the producer has a better feel for what demographic the particular artist is appealing to. Max Martin is a famed record producer with over 17 #1 hits that he either co-wrote and/or produced. Including: Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, “E.T.” 2011, Maroon 5, “One More Night,” 2012, and Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” 2012(1). “He ranks behind only Paul McCartney, with 32, and John Lennon with 26”(1). This is an amazing feat in the field of music writing. That being said, it’s astounding to think that he is still relatively unknown to the average person. These top artists owe a huge debt to Martin for his expertise in writing and mastering their songs. His skill in appealing to the masses and, particularly, to the artist’s target demographic. In an interview, Martin said this, “I think the ‘target market’ and ‘audience’ tends to come with the artist. If I’m doing something with a young pop artist I may not choose to have a brass section in a song, for example. Sometimes you have to think about what the artist already is”(2). Although these producers work behind the scenes, popular music today would not be the same or, arguably, as good without their expertise and the technology they use to master the tracks.

Works Cited

  1. “Ask Billboard: Max Martin Notches Another No. 1.” Billboard. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2015. <http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/6327746/ask-billboard-max-martin-notches-another-no-1&gt;.
  2. “Max Martin Interview – Popjustice.” Popjustice RSS. N.p., 27 Apr. 2009. Web. 27 Mar. 2015. <http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/max-martin-interview/49884/&gt;.

Live Concerts

Jeff Jenkins

March 4th, 2015

Comparative Studies 2367

Seth Josephson

Music is a form of entertainment that many people use to pass time, to help create a specific emotion, or to reinforce an emotion that they are currently having. These are typical examples of music being used on an individual basis through headphones and music has many more functions for the individual person. However, the focus in this paper is not on what affects music has in individual setting. The focus is on the effect music has on a group. It is both a form of escape from the stress and obligations of people’s busy lives, as well as a form of community among the audience and a way of self-representation for the artist.

In analyzing the effect live music has on the audience, there are significant communal and escapist aspects of concerts. Ann Cvetkovich touched on the communal concept in her book The Archive of Feelings she mentions the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and says, “performed live, the song creates an opportunity for the audience to shout out the words as a group and affirm the many kinds of survival that bring them together”. She said that these live shows “form the archive in which my own feelings are deposited”. In one’s own experience with live concerts, one might experience the same thing. Cvetkovich spoke of a collective “trauma” occurring in each of the attendees that brings them together and unifies them. However, it does not take a traumatic experience to pull people together and enjoy these live shows. Although it may add a deeper connection within the audience if they are able to relate on that level, the absence of a noteworthy traumatic experience will not hinder someone from having an amazing, communal experience when they go to a concert.

When one goes to a concert that is put on by a band that they have been listening to nonstop and know all the songs by heart, the feeling of community is indescribable. In most cases, the people gathered love the songs as much as they the next person. Consequently, they are simultaneously singing along to every word in unison. The crowd’s movement and energy transfers from one person to the next. Once one person feels it and starts jumping, it spreads quickly throughout the crowd. It’s as if energy is a highly contagious sickness that spreads mercilessly through the audience. The subject of the lyrics does not have to be about a traumatic experience or anything negative. All that matters is the atmosphere that the music creates. Songs with positive, encouraging lyrics are just as powerful as negative, traumatic ones. The music behind the words has a profound affect on the movement and mood of the audience. Dance concerts and festivals have very little words at all in their music and the feeling of community and acceptance is just as strong. An article in the Los Angeles Times talks about the Electric Daisy Carnival or EDC. The Electric Daisy Carnival is a massive festival that plays Electronic Dance Music, or EDM. This music typically has very few lyrics and is focused on the music and the beat. In this article, sociologist Yale Fox said “When everyone is listening to music at the same time, they’re all stimulated in a similar fashion … there’s something magical about everybody moving to the same beat.”(1) So, whether it has words to sing along to or not, the music has a way of bringing people together and putting everyone in a collective mood.

When an especially energetic and audience-engaging show is coming to an end, there is another ritual that takes place that has a particularly unifying effect; this ritual is called an encore. As the band plays the final song on their initial set list, they walk off stage as the crowd continues to cheer and applaud their performance. After a few moments, the crowd begins to chant together in unison. “One more song! One more song” After a minute of the crowd persisting, the band comes back on stage, invited by a roar from the crowd as they begin playing an encore song or set of songs. In an article in Popular Music & Society, Emma Webster sums up the encore phenomenon well by saying “The encore ritual both marks the temporality of a music event and also allows the audience at least to feel the semblance of empowerment in an increasingly mechanized, impersonal live music industry. It also enables artists, albeit somewhat artificially, to thank their audiences and finish their sets in a way that is understood, accepted, and expected by their audiences”(2). In her article, Webster tends to focus on the encore as being a temporary and artificial addition to a live show. This may be the case when an artist comes out to play more without the crowds eager applause. However, when a crowd eagerly wants to hear another song, the chanting and the highly anticipated return of the artist is an excellent conclusion to a great communal experience.

On stage, many popular artists pay close attention to how the set looks as they are performing. They adjust the lights that are being flashed onto the stage to set the appropriate mood. They use fog machines and lasers to create an intense atmosphere. Many artists use projection screens to show video of various different types to create a desired effect on the audience. There is an art to creating the music and lighting to project a feeling or emotion to the audience. In some of the larger shows, they the use of extravagant stage props to create an atmosphere that gives the viewer the sense that they are in another world. They hire actors and dancers and dress them up in obscure outfits to project an atmosphere that takes the crowd away from a sense of reality… A festival that goes by the name of TomorrowWorld achieves this through giant stage that is 400 feet wide and 90 feet high. The project director of TomorowWorld, Shawn Kent said, “for days, you’re transported to another world with the decoration, the 3-D elements we put on the stages, the design elements, the performers.” This use of music and visuals gives each audience member an escape from the real world.

The artists that put on a show have a unique opportunity to escape in their own way. This can be seen through the self-representation of their stage act. Some artists create a persona that is appealing and compelling to the average person. They create an alter ego that they act out on social media, in public interviews, and on stage during their live performances. David Bowie, a rockstar from the 70s, created an alter ego named Ziggy Stardust. This alternate persona wore outlandish clothing, and acted in a very different way than Bowie, by himself, would act on stage. Bowie had created a new personality that helped him step outside of himself in order to write music. Bowie said in an interview that he created the persona Ziggy Stardust because of his feeling of inadequacy, and feeling out of his element in the rock industry that he grew up in (3). He did a lot of writing for other artists at that time and he did it with ease. He knew what kind of sound they were looking for and could help them create it. But when he would attempt to write for himself he found it very difficult to do so. However, he found it very easy to write for the character that he created, Ziggy. Even though he was the one that created the persona, it was easier to distance himself from it all and write for his fictional character. He could escape into this character and live a life that came from his imagination while he was on stage. However, artists do not have to go to these extremes to captivate an audience. One can see the overwhelming effects of community in music that is written on a more personal subject to the artist. Some audiences are drawn to the fictional characters, because they see a piece of themselves in them. Others are drawn to a more truthful representation of the music.

In the realm of live music, we can see many different factors at play. We see the community that is experienced by the crowd. We can experience the feeling of escape into the music and feel like we’re being taken to another place. We see the effects that the stage lights have on the mood of the audience. We see the way that the stage props and stage structure can add to the feeling of escapist. We see, in some cases, that music and concerts allow the artist to escape into a fictional character that was created for the purpose of creating music and performing. These factors are all elements that make live shows one of the best forms of communion and escape a person can experience today.

Works Cited

  1. “Electric Daisy Carnival, EDM Thrive on Escapist Atmosphere.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2015. <http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-et-ms-electric-daisy-carnival-20140621-story.html&gt;.
  1. Webster, Emma. ““One More Tune!” The Encore Ritual In Live Music Events.” Popular Music & Society 35.1 (2012): 93-111.Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
  1. “David Bowie Explains Ziggy Stardust Persona in Animated Interview.”Rolling Stone. N.p., 19 May 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/david-bowie-explains-ziggy-stardust-persona-in-animated-interview-20140519&gt;