Author(s): Simon Frith
Publisher: Social Semiotics, 22:5, pp. 517-522
This issue of Social Semiotics is concerned with the staging of live music. The papers here were first prepared for a conference on the Business of Live Music, held in the University of Edinburgh from 30 April to 2 May 2011.1 The term ‘‘business’’ in the conference title was chosen because of its double meaning: on the one hand, we were interested in the economics of live music, in music promotion as a sector of the music industry; on the other hand, we were interested in the construction of the concert as a meaningful event, in the institutional and ideological activities that cause live music to heard in particular ways. Our reference point here was magic: magicians use stage ‘‘business’’ to mislead the audience, to make what they do seem literally magical. Live music is akin to magic in that many mundane things must be organised – sound, lights, seating/standing space, etc. – for an audience to appreciate the musical performance itself as extraordinary, as something transcendent.
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