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Live Music vs. Recorded Music

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Live Music vs. Recorded Music As Mark Morris addresses the people at the Midwest Arts Conference in 1998, he explains how deeply he feels about the importance of live performances as opposed to recorded performances. He feels that each time tickets are sold and a performance takes place it is a true miracle. In today’s world live performances are separating farther away from society and recorded performances are taking control. This needs to change. Live performances and recorded performances are incomparable and will ultimately affect human beings in very different ways. Live performances provide a special opportunity for the performer and audience, whereas recorded performances will not. Live performances are spontaneous and a spur of the moment experience. This spontaneity creates a more natural performance since mistakes will be made, but the piece will ultimately be greater than the number of mistakes made. Recorded performances are an attempt at creating something perfect without any mistakes, but as humans, that is something we are not capable of doing. Furthermore, recorded performances are unrealistic and are an untrue performance.
As a performer performs live, the audience will help create a positive atmosphere for the performance, however recorded performances do not rely on an audience. In live performances there is an exchange of energy that also does not occur in recorded performances. This energy can only occur between a live performer and an audience. Since it is difficult to fully understand the energy taking place while watching or listening to a recorded performance, the viewer/listener will not have the same experience as an audience member that watched that exact same performance live. In addition to the energy, the visual elements of a live performance will impact the experience. Also the body language has a deep visual impact on the message and the experience of the performance. A performance is not about how the act was performed, but rather how the audience perceives it.
Unfortunately, recorded performances are having a large affect on live performances. Currently, people are becoming so used to recorded performances, that performers will try to replicate their recordings during their live performances. In music, many artists have been caught lip-syncing to their own recording in public instead of actually singing. This is a much larger mistake than the small mistakes that might be made during a truthful live performance.
Having recently been to several live performances, I can personally attest that viewing a performance live is more affective then watching it on a TV or listening to it on your iPod. Each time I go to a concert the music always sounds different. The singer’s voice is much more natural, as you hear the heavy breathing in the microphone and the interactions that the performer has with the audience. This does not occur in recorded music. Although I enjoy listening to music, especially the same music that I just heard live, the recorded music is impractical.
Although there is a joy to listening or watching a recorded performance at home while sitting in your own comfortable space, viewing a live performance provides an entirely different type of comfort. While siting in a theater, a space specifically made for performances, one will experience a series of programs that will ultimately create a relationship. Listening or watching a performance at home will force the viewer to become a “lazy viewer,” because they can sample, skip around, and even turn it off. The experience is different at a live performance; you are not sampling, but rather you taste the entire performance.
As Mark Morris explains the importance of live performances and his experience at church in Seattle, he discusses the “utterly private” experience and “the music that we all shared in the air.” These words are the essence of a live performance. One will not feel this connection when viewing or listening to a recorded performance. Live performances have always and will continue to blow the mind of their audience.

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