30 May 2009

My most hated sounds at a concert

After attending several students' graduation recitals, I realise that I am much pricklier and tetchier than I think I am. I just don't understand why some members in the audience are so obsessed about making extra sounds at a concert where keeping silent during the performance is good etiquette.

Below are what drove me crazy at the concerts.
  • Crumpling plastic bags (I don't think anyone in the auditorium who rubs a plastic bag means to make a good contrapuntal part for the programme on stage. Even though this is the case, I don't think the performer or the audience would appreciate it.)

  • Opening and closing handbags with velcro or hook-fastener straps repeatedly (Can you have whatever you need from your handbags before the programme starts?)

  • Humming tunes (Well, it is crystal clear that you are an expert and have essential knowledge of the programme despite its esotericism, but you don't have to recite the tune. The audience are able to hear it from the stage.)

  • Coughing incessantly (No offence, but I suppose anyone who is suffering from virus infection in which the mucous membrane of the nose and throat becomes inflamed when kindly refrain from attending a concert should sneezing, coughing or other similar symptoms appear.)

  • Shutter clicking (I've noticed it's a posh ritzy digital single-lens reflex camera, and therefore you don't have to draw our attention by making those cursed sounds over and over.)

  • Snoring (I don't care at all whether the programme is so tedious or droning that you can do nothing but snatch forty winks, but don't make those irritating snorting sounds.)
I propose, if producing uninvited sounds while watching the performance is very much desired, then go to an Ibiza rave party instead of coming to a Western classical concert.

25 May 2009

From shutter sounds to attitudes towards music listening

Photography and audio/video recording are usually prohibited at a concert in order to protect the intellectual property rights, but sometimes using a camera without flash may be allowed in stage events. Obvious, it is because the flash may cause disturbance to the performers. However, in my opinion, the bloody vexing shutter sounds should be forbidden as well; it causes annoyance, too.

I was invited to a student's composition concert yesterday (aye, another graduation concert). I was very much peeved by the incessant blasted shutter click sound and almost believed at one point that it was some sort of aural effect intentionally made for the concert.

Before the introduction of digital cameras, considering the cost of films and photo developing, an amateur or layperson would release the shutter with great caution.

In contrast, due to the increasing availability of digital cameras and improving storage capacity of memory cards, one may take as many shots as desired without worrying about film usage. If the image is not good enough or is taken by mistake, simply delete it and you lose nothing.

I suppose this may explain why the guy with a digital single-lens reflex camera kept pressing the shutter button with no interruption at my student's composition concert. I find a similar attitude toward music listening.

Before the arrival of the various digital formats of sound and duplication devices, people would play and listen to an album over and over, even though the record or cassette was purchased by mistake. People showed more respect to music because recordings were not as ubiquitous as they are nowadays.

On the contrary, as it is so easy to obtain a copy of an audio file from a friend or download one from the Internet, people just can't be bothered to listen to a piece once more if they are not caught by that musical work at first sight. They download it, then remove it from the playlist and finally delete it permanently.

24 May 2009

Flowers received at a concert

It is quite usual, and might just be as normal as blowing a kiss to someone you adore, to present a bouquet to your favourite musician, singer or artist at the end of a concert. It is also common to see a star tossing back to members of the audience the flowers which have just been presented on stage.

However, it would be unusual to be handed a bunch of flowers from the musician or artist after a concert. It happened to me last night.

I was invited to a trombone recital, one of those many graduation recitals I have mentioned in the previous post. At the end of the concert, the student gave an informal address in acknowledgement of support and guidance she had received during her study and went through with a list of persons and names to whom she owed gratitude. Surprisingly, I was also on the list because, in her words, I had brought her 'other musics' from the world in addition to the Western classical tradition.

The student presented me with a bunch of flowers in the aisle in front of the stage after the concert on my way out of the hall. Fanne arranged them in a vase.

23 May 2009

Season of graduation recitals

(Some invitations I received to students' graduation recitals)

It's been two years since I started teaching part-time at the National Taipei University of Education (NTUE). The course I conduct there is exclusively for students from the Department of Music, whereas what I offer at the National Taiwan University (NTU) is part of the undergraduate general education programme and therefore open to all students.

Apart from course intensity, teaching strategies and students' academic backgrounds, what makes the courses at the two respective universities distinct from each other is the extracurricular activities for lecturers and professors, that is, attending students' concerts.

As my students at NTUE are all 'music students', who usually have to give graduation recitals or composition concerts to fulfil the degree requirements, from time to time I am invited to these events, particularly in the buildup to the graduation season. I will have attended five concerts in May and some more in June.

Fortunately, I am not among any examination committee, since I believe refereeing a graduation recital would be twice more mind-consuming than marking an essay. I am solely a member of the audience.

Scanning through the invitation they handed to me, I am overwhelmed to see those publicity photos on some cards (How much have they spent?) and realise it would be wrong to assume that only superstar musicians need fancy posters and publicity stuff.