As Seth Roberts Put Me in the "Thinkers" Category of His Blogroll, I Thought I'd Write a Post in Which the Footnotes Are Longer Than the Main Text

This morning I wondered why people visit concerts. Think about it: Rock/pop bands are not going to produce as good a performance of their songs as you will get on the album.* That's not due to the fact that they tend to perform better in the studio, but rather modern recording/mixing techniques which really took off in the 1960s. In the case of classical music, it's unlikely that the chap that visits your local concert hall pulls of a better performance of a Bach piano piece than Glenn Gould. And buying a CD to which you can listen to over and over again will in many cases be cheaper than buying a ticket to the concert. Yes, the sound quality is a bit better when you visit a live concert, but still...

I've managed to come up with a grand total of two reasons, which, to make me look more clever, I'll pretend are actually three reasons:

1. People want to see stars. I remember shelling out an extraordinary amount of money for seeing Paul McCartney. I didn't even like his current music very much (although The Frog Song is a cracker, of course), but I wanted to see a Beatle. (I'm a big Beatles fan).**

2. In the case of classical music, people go to a concert for a similar reason they go to a restaurant, to which in most cases they don't go because the food's so good: It's a night out.

3. In the case of rock/pop music, people go to a concert because they want to party: have a beer, scream and shout, dance, etc.***

There must be other reasons. Anyone?

*That, according to John Lennon, is why The Beatles never released a live album when they were still around. Of course, nowadays you can get Beatles live albums. I even own one because it was a bargain. I never listen to it. Beatles live albums may be particularly poor because John, Paul, George and Ringo couldn't hear each other due to a combination of impotent PAs and screaming girls and thus had to coordinate by watching each other's movements. Which, if you think about it, is pretty impressive. Possibly next in this series: Why do people buy live albums, but only if I can come up with a better answer than "the atmosphere".

**Second mention of The Beatles in this post. I'm doing this in an attempt to try to make myself look original. You may think this is a rather cheap joke, but it is actually a reference to Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity, which I recommend you read. Am I digressing? I am!

***Long ago, I had an argument with my mother and my sister about the correct German way of saying "to go to a concert". The ladies argued that it was "in ein Konzert gehen" or "zu einem Konzert gehen", while I said "auf ein Konzert gehen" was the way to, haha, go. Imagine my bafflement when years later I read a piece by Max Goldt, the greatest German stylist since Kafka****, who explaned that for classical concerts it was "in ein Konzert gehen", while for rock concerts it was "auf ein Konzert gehen" due to the analogy with "auf eine Party gehen" ("to go to a party"). I should have photocopied that text for them but didn't, and now I don't know where to find it.

****There is a big chance that you don't agree with my assessment that Kafka was a big stylist if you have read him in translation. Milan Kundera's Les Testaments trahis, which I recommend you read, too, contains a long essay about how French translators messed up Kafka's beautifully simple prose. The basic idea is that when Kafka wrote "he went... he went... he went", they translated "he went... he moved to... he directed himself towards".*****

*****Footnote to footnote-format courtesy of Robert K. Merton's On the Shoulders of Giants, which I also recommend you read. This is the end.

No comments: