Writing about World Music

Section X, Fall 2016

Mood in Live Music:

My interview with Jacob Ball was very insightful. We discussed Catfish Disco’s performance at “Live Thursday’s” last week, and ended up with a lot more than Catfish Disco. Instead of just focusing on the group, we rather discussed the relationship between performers and audience members in a live setting.

It seemed like everything we talked about came back to the mood of the performer. Song choice, musicality, stage presence and energy all come back to the mood, which is then transferred into the audience in reciprocation. Jacob said:

“I think that the mood of the performers really sets a precedent over       everything else because if the performers are willing to get lost in the music and forget about everything else that’s going on, then the audience follows suit. And I think it’s hard to say ‘oh each person has their own mood in the show’ because it’s hard to go into the show where everybody’s high energy and happy and be down on yourself because I think you would be lifted up by everyone else”.

Therefore the mood of the live music depends on the performer, as it is then transferred to the audience which is reciprocated.  And there is a mob mentality that brings people to the same mood in the audience.

There is also a cyclical relationship between the audience and the performer.  Jacob said ““the performer lets the audience in, which increases their mood, which feeds back to the performer, whose mood is increased by the audience being happy”.  This cyclical relationship adds onto each of the components’ mood until the end.  For example, this interdependent relationship fueled Catfish Disco’s courage to do an encore at the end because the mood that Catfish Disco gave the audience throughout the concert was returned to them and they fed off of it.

I think this is some of the appeal of live music.



  1. Your idea of the relationship between the audience and performer made me think of a realization I came to about my project: in classical music, the conductor’s only method of communication with the audience is through the orchestra that the conductor conducts.
    During the performance, the audience usually pays little, if any, attention to the conductor. Instead, they focus on the music that is being played. Because of this, the conductor must make the orchestra play to the best of their ability by instructing them during rehearsals, since even thought the conductor is not the focal point of the performance, a poor performance would reflect badly on the conductor.
    In my observations of the Davidson Orchestra, I have noticed the conductor, Dr. Keith, giving specific directions to the players so as to have them play as well as possible. Although I doubt that Dr. Keith’s primary motive for trying to make the orchestra sound good is so that she does not seem like a bad director (she probably genuinely wants to help the students grow as musicians), I still suspect that it is part of her motive.

  2. Live music is intriguing in its interaction between the performers and audiences. Just as Will says, “the mood of the live music depends on the performer, as it is then transferred to the audience which is reciprocated.” Good live performers create a good atmosphere, which arises the mood of the audiences, who are the majority in the hall and in turn pass the good atmosphere further to other audiences…….and finally audiences are even able to affect the performer. This reciprocate process is characteristic to live music. The improvising of the performers, the reactions of audiences and the cooperation or interaction between performers and audiences all make the live music unique and attractive.
    Live music is different from recordings and classical concerts. Recordings are stable and predictable possessions. People purchase them from shops or online, and simply play the songs. Music in CDs will not change under any circumstances. Contents are the same no matter a person is sad or busy. In another way, the emotion input is one-way, and the recordings return nothing to people. Classical concerts, on the other hand, express emotions in a rather reserved way. Performers usually focus on their own jobs. Hardly any performer has even eye contact with audiences. Audiences contain their feeling as well. People often sit on their seat without any movements or even close their eyes to enjoy the nuances of music. Behaviors that could possibly break the stillness of the hall are seen as impolite.
    I think some characteristics of live music are shaped by its limit on its venue. Live music can never provide music with quality as good as CDs or classical concerts. People go to concerts for high quality music, but seldom anyone count too much on the sound quality of live music. Thus, the glamour of live music is actually decided by the “live” performances. Thus, how do people judge whether a certain live performance is good or not? Reactions of audiences! Audiences hail for good performances.
    The reciprocal process of live music mentioned by Will is the most interesting part for me. I can easily imagine how the performer affects the audiences, for which the quality of the performance is closely connected to the mood and the motivation of the performer. However, how do the audiences affect the player? As Will says, audiences could return their mood back to the performer. In most cases, the number of the audience is so large that they can easily create an extremely high atmosphere in the room or in the stadium. Players are affected by that, simply because their efforts on music is paid back. However, I think players often have a determined music list for the performance, and rehearse for the list before the performance. Performers risk messing up the whole performance if they improvise something they have never practiced for a long time. Thus, I believe the interactions and the improvisation of music is largely dependent on the reaction and participation of audiences, but I doubt that performers can play a song just in order to fulfill the request of audiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *