With the high accessibility of on-demand music, it’s amazing how strong live music performances are among the music-loving population. Live performances simply provide an experience to the listener that live recordings can’t.
We’re most familiar to the studio recordings of our favorite songs, and they appeal so much to us because they’re technically perfect. Every note is in tune, the rhythm is crisp and beats are never out of place and there is a perfect blend of all the elements in the music.
So why is that such a bad thing? It’s not. I love listening to the recordings that I do have of my favorite songs. However, hearing a live performance of that song is exponentially better.
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With the technical perfection that comes with studio recordings also comes with the boring nature that comes with perfection. As human beings, perfection is an ideal that we chase, but something that we can’t achieve. It’s especially true in music.
When the source performance the recording’s derived from gets altered so much in post-production, it loses the beauty of its humanity within the performance.
Attending a live performance also makes the musical experience a more personal one, because you can visually see the performer in front of you. You can empathize with the performer’s feelings and gain a better understanding of what the performer is trying to convey with his or her performance.
I had the pleasure of attending the Fred Fox School of Music Wind Ensemble concert last week and it was nothing short of an unforgettable experience. As an instrumentalist myself, I was able to witness a band performing at an incredibly high level. But, even better, I could feelwhat they felt by listening to their sound and visually observing their performance. A flute soloist was featured in one of the pieces and her skill and the orchestration put me in a moment in which I was able to forget about what was going on in my personal life and just got lost within the whirlwind of sound surrounding me. I’ve never had an experience similar to that while listening to a recording.
The music is only one aspect of a live performance, as there is also performer-audience interaction or audience-audience interaction. It’s not an odd occurrence for performers to do more than just music at their concerts.
For example, J. Cole gave commentary about his music during a live performance in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In another case, Beyoncé sometimes lets the audience in on the music by pausing to let an entire stadium sing a fragment of her best hits. This allows the audience to form a connection with their favorite artist—one that can’t be emulated when listening to a live recording.
In places like music festivals, it’s very common to meet new people who share the same musical interests as you. You’re able to share the experience with someone. Live performances allow you to sing, for example, Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” at the top of your lungs with somebody else and be free from judgment. And once the music stops and the equipment is put away, the person you just met could possibly be a life-long friend.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to just unplug from your headphones and attend a live music event.
They make for unforgettable experiences that let the listener dig deep into the meaning of a song and be empathetic with the performer. It’s an interactive experience where the listener can form an understanding of the performer—something that’s not possible with only recordings.
So don’t brush off live music events in favor of the recordings. Unplug and enjoy.
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