lately, i've been thinking a lot about how audiences watch acousmatic performances.
a few months ago, my partner and i saw a really beautifully crafted ensemble set (playing a terry riley piece). modular rigs, just folks staring at boxes with rats nests of cables popping out. beautiful stuff. there was a piano player present as well, on an acoustic piano. because i've been entrenched in learning about modular synthesis and the types of sounds that different modules make, i was able to follow the 45 minute piece actively. really enjoyed myself.
my partner, however, was only able to engage through the piano player; not only was the pianist's struggle to balance one headphone cup on his shoulder while repeatedly playing a single note SUPER compelling, but (more importantly) my partner already understood the cause-and-effect of playing piano. she walked in with that knowledge, much like i walked in knowing the cause-and-effect of the Doepfer rack's repatching.
point is, she really disliked the event because it didn't provide enough of an entry for folks who aren't already initiated. it seems the band assumed that their audience would have either practiced listening to acousmatic sound or wouldn't mind not knowing the relationship between what they hear and what they see. but if we (as artists) hope to grow our listeners rather than just celebrate our works among fellow musicians, then a more purposeful approach might be necessary.
this seems to be true of any music performance that doesn't stick to "traditional" instruments. modulars, laptops, loop pedals -- if an audience doesn't already understand the ins and outs, it can all be magic to them. perhaps the best case scenario, with any acousmatic-leaning music, is to spike curiosity. to warmly invite folks into our performances, whether they're done with a rack or a computer surrounded by controllers. if we're performing live, asking others to participate in our work with us, it's the most respectful thing we can do.
i'm curious if others feel this is as important and how you achieve it.