Keith Jarrett is a beautifully artistic musician. His music is so excellent it deserves our attention. And he certainly deserves to be acknowledged for both his discipline and the art he brings to the world. But I would like to suggest that we can learn something from his annoyance at the people he makes music for:
Art is created for people, and people are noisemakers. If we want to create live music, we need prepare for this reality.
You can read the story I am referring to here. I am not going to rehash it. Apparently, coughing and camera clicking were a happening at a concert at Carnegie Hall, so much so that Jarrett jeered at the people and even walked off stage at one point. What can we learn from Jarret’s Jeering?
- Art (including music) is created for people: Yes, music is often found it two common forms, recorded and live presentation. No one is going to force us to do either. Some may have a passion for one over the other. But in most cases, recorded music is made in the studio in relatively quiet and distraction free environments. Live music is presented before an audience of people.
- People are noisemakers. And if we are going to make music in a live environment, there is a real good chance for things like babies, waiters and clanking dishes, talking, sneezing, coughing, cameras, dancing, and even hecklers.
- If making music live is important to us, are the people we are making it for as important (or more important) than the gig, or the music itself? The people we make music for ultimately matter more than the music. They are there to enjoy the music. But we are there because they would listen. If we can’t accept the realness of people; sneezes and all, we might be best to stay in the studio and forgo the concert hall. If we prepare ourselves, just maybe it can be an important part of what it means to present live art, for real live people. Maybe we can enjoy the people as much as the music, or even more. Some would argue that some of the best live musicians are those that engage the audience fully. Maybe being prepared for this reality and learning to embrace it will make us better musicians, and better people.