Encounters of New Music with Performance Art. And vice versa.

 

Where do contemporary music and performance cross lines? Who does this and why? Where does interpretation ‘stop’ and performance ‘start’? What are musical attempts to lean into the performance art? How does performance art incorporate and use experimental music for their expressiveness?

One of the main differences between contemporary music and performance art is the predetermination of things. Performance would generally be open to things happening during the happening, having an open end, while new music and composition will focus on predefine everything as far as possible. If sound is chosen to be part of the performance art-experiment it will not be composed, not previously, and not spontaneously. The aesthetic quality of the music chosen for the performance can be more experimental or more traditional, depending also on the subject and the desired expression. 

For half a century contemporary music has dealt with performative aspects as one topic in the composition of western classical music. In music theatre it even has been part of it ever since. But it seems that especially in the very recent years this topic has gained a very special part in the new music concerts. This might be caused by two reasons: The more and more omnipresent visual aspect of everything we are confronted with. Presentation is key, and often is connected to a special, untraditional setup and use of the physical body disconnected to the performance on the instrument. And secondly: the search for new terms of the formerly only called ‘interpret’, labels which determine himher from being a ‘simple’ executer to also being a creative person himherself, however far this activity might reach. 

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