I’m off to London this week to do some full-time audiencing. Those of you who are familiar with Christopher Small’s work know that I am referencing his concept of musicking:
an activity in which all those present are involved and for whose nature and quality, success or failure, everyone present bears some responsibility. It is not just a matter of composer, or even performers, actively doing something to, or for, passive listeners. Whatever it is we are doing, we are all doing it together—performers, listeners (should there be any apart form the performers), composer (should there be one apart from the performers), dancers, ticket collectors, piano movers, roadies, cleaners and all.
I deeply appreciate Small’s repurposing of the word music as something well beyond the score, or the composer, or the musicians. He phrases to music as an infinitive because he intends for us to think of it as an action in the form of a human encounter rather than as a thing. An action that allows us to ask ourselves and those around us “what it means when this performance (of this work) takes place at this time, in this place, with these participants? . . . What’s really going on here?”
What a wonderful invitation.
So for the next week or so I get to wander a great city asking, what’s really going on here? I get to encounter art in a wide variety of forms (from stage and concert hall and gallery to historical architecture to street art to jazz clubs to garden markets). I get to look, listen, feel, contemplate, reflect, speculate, dance to, hum along, talk about, talk back to, write about, document and fall asleep thinking about the art that surrounds me.
I get to audience.