Designing the Concert Experience, part 1

I want to craft a good experience for those who come to performances of the Chicago Bass Ensemble. This post will mark the beginning of my discussing the idea of designing a concert. First some random thoughts. (I’m tapping this out on an iPhone, at least initially, so I may be somewhat inelegant.)
Understanding the audience
Let’s agree that this seems obvious. If you want people to enjoy what you do, do what they enjoy.
Is that selling out? Only if you end up doing something that you don’t enjoy. if that’s the case, consider not playing for this audience.
Can a concert maintain the same emotional, physical, dynamic level from beginning to end? If you can, is that desirable?
The Peak-End Effect
I think I’ve got the right name for this psychological effect: that people remember the highest point of an experience and it’s outcome or end. (They may remember the trough, rather than the peak, if the lowest point is lower than the peak is high.) So send ’em home whistling!

There are of course others: timing meaning duration, contrast which is related to pace, direction meaning the overall emotive vector of he program, and I’m sure there are more.

For the moment, understanding the audience provides me with a project: get a fuller understanding of the (likely) audiences for our performances in January and February. Two actions present themselves:

  • speak directly with the presenters
  • look closely at who else is programmed for the series and for the festival.

By taking these two actions, I can help myself settle my programming decisions.


2 Responses to “Designing the Concert Experience, part 1”

  1. […] an earlier post on this site, I discussed some of my thoughts on designing the concert experience. Here are a few reflections on what I set out to do about the design of the […]

  2. […] As I began to play François Rabbath’s Pucha Dass, I had a moment of internal panic, wondering if the seniors in the crowd would be disgusted and horrified by this moody and dramatic modern piece. But it went well and received solid applause. On reflection I realized that the people we call ‘seniors’ today were in early adulthood or early middle age when the piece was written and when composers like Stockhausen, Feldman and Subotnick were achieving prominence. This isn’t foreign music to these people. If they were music lovers at that time in their lives, they might have attended performance of works that are considerably more avant-garde than this one. Understand your audience! […]

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