The Fiati 5, composer-in-residence Kyle Werner, apprentice Laura Staffaroni, and I met last night (ieri sera) to discuss practices of listening to music in the twenty-first century. Two scholarly texts provided a basis for our conversation: Tia DeNora, Music in Everyday Life (2000) and Daniel Cavicchi, Listening and Longing (2011). Both authors suggest that the listener participates in the process of musical creation, what DeNora calls “appropriation,” i.e., a listener may place music in a specific context, such as listening to music at the gym, or a listener may hear the music with reference to memories and extra-musical associations, such as listening to a piece he listened with his grandmother as a child.
Our conversation explored the generic categories of “active” and “passive” listening, which DeNora and Cavicchi both consider, if only peripherally. The Chamber Music Campania musicians and composers, building upon the scholarly literature, identified that this duality of “active” versus “passive” is not only complex, but also perhaps a false binary. Mike (horn) recognized that a listening experience is fluid: the listener can be actively engaged one minute and unreceptive the next (think of sitting through Wagner!). Kyle (composer) argued that the materials of a composition and its continuity in affectual logic can sustain active and passive listening, depending on the listener’s context, the program (if there is one), and other factors.
We return to this topic next week, when we contemplate further the role of the listener and the relationship between audience and performer. I expect another lively and energizing discussion––the ideal antipasto before dinner at “C’era una volta”!
Enjoy this photo from last night’s feast (credit: Christina Dioguardi, bassoon).