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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Dunderhead Effect

Very soon after a rock or popular artist takes the concert stage, I suddenly remember why the whole experience is often not as enjoyable as going to a jazz concert or a symphony. Do the dunderheads yelling requests at rock shows never listen to anything but the hits? More significantly, why are they yelling in the first place?

Like many things, I suspect the answer lies in mathematics. Rock music is vastly more popular than either jazz or what is frequently called classical music. More people = more dunderheads. This observation is supported when I stop and contrast my own earlier years playing rock n' roll and popular music to my current situation playing jazz. With a few magical exceptions, most audiences I've entertained have been equally inattentive but, there is no comparison in the dunderhead factor. Or discard the experience of Pat the unknown and go see a well known recording artist in a smaller music venue, like a supper club. Then compare the behavior of these different audiences and tell me what you observe.

Part of the joy of rock and much popular music is its energy; jazz and classical music can seem more cerebral, especially to the uninitiated. It's possible that energy contributes to the Id-like enthusiasm simulating dunderheadism at rock concerts. But understanding the impulse doesn't diminish my annoyance. And over the years, the cumulative effect has been to discourage me from going to live shows of many performers whose music has meant a great deal to me.

1 comment:

  1. I feel your pain. The behavior at classical music concerts has also deteriorated lately. This past weekend I attended a classical Christmas concert at a stately old but refurbished Catholic Church in my area - forty adult vocalists, a thirty piece orchestra, two bell choirs and a children's choir. It is acoustical heaven to perform or to be an audience member in this venue.
    I arrived early but not early enough. SRO was already in effect, so knowing the church well, I darted up the semi-concealed stairway to the choir loft with a dozen people following me. We found seating on metal folding chairs with an adequate view. The sound man did not eject us because I knew him. About ten minutes into the program, the man on my left started to play Candy Crush Saga on his phone. The woman on my right began rifling through countless screens on her phone. I felt a sudden impulse to grab both phones and pitch them over the balcony wall but I refrained. This would have caused injury to people below and destroyed the concentration of the seventy-five performers in the front of the church. I had to wonder why these two young people(25 to 30 years old) bothered to attend at all. Ah yes! They had relatives in the choirs! Apparently, dunderheads are everywhere. Perhaps I should have thanked them for setting their phone volumes on mute?