New Rifftides reader John B. an estimable blogger, comments on the apparently endless fascination of Rifftiders with the phenomenon of applause.
I know this is an old post of yours, but I excuse this by saying that I’ve just learned of your blog and so “it’s new to me.” Apologies in advance for prattling.
This topic reminds me of something that happened at a concert by a Slovak orchestra that I attended some years ago in Mobile, Alabama. I can’t remember the piece now, but at the end of the first movement many in the audience began applauding. The conductor, somewhat bemused, half-turned and acknowledged it with a slight bow of the head. But now a precedent had been established: at the end of the second movement, the audience again applauded. This time, though, the conductor’s expression as he turned was a considerably less patient one–the smile tighter, the nod of the head slower. For me, at least, that moment created a tension that lasted the rest of the concert; the focus wasn’t on the music but on that whole constellation of behaviors involved in concertgoing that were transgressed in part that night. The night became a question of what, in the end, do we attend concerts for: to hear music or to observe the obsequies attendant upon hearing music?
I suppose an appropriate analogy would be a deviation from the norm of a high-church’s liturgy: Being a high-churcher myself, I am drawn to liturgy–it connects me to the church’s long, long past in a way that more informal forms of worship do not. But I’m not there to worship liturgy.