After some thought I’ve decided I really like the term “live music.”
My initial interpretation was to dismiss it with the perspective that music, whether hearing it performed by a live band or through speakers, is live or alive. It is a preservation of the sounds made by the hands, mouths and feet of a collective group of people or just one person. Even if a piece of music is a synthesized tacky-sounding drum beat with someone talking over top of it, someone sat down (okay maybe they stood up, I can’t speak for everyone) and created the tacky-sounding beat with their hands and spoke ideas out loud with their mouth and recorded it. Without delving too deep into this topic, I think this is the greatest thing about music, it’s accessible to everyone and it can be created in any form using any medium and shared with anyone.
My issue with the term “live music” was that no matter how you hear it, it sounds alive. Melodies sink and sway and move in a way that make you feel something. And that makes them ‘living’ to me.
However, after attending a concert last night I realized why the term is appropriate. Sound waves traveling from an instrument played by one human into the ears of another is a different sort of ‘live.’ This ‘live’ is an instantaneous experiencing of sonic art. And it’s more vulnerable because someone is sharing it with you in person.
The band performing in front of me last night was one of those bands that are completely in the moment and completely in love with what they’re playing. You can see it in their faces, in their movements. It’s in the way the lead singer closes his eyes and let’s his hand float towards the ceiling as he sings a slow peaceful melody and then open his eyes and brings his hand to the mic when the energetic chorus comes back in. It’s in the way the guitarist smirks when he catches the eye of the bassist as their instruments create a melody that is greater than the sum of its parts.
When a band is this passionate about their music, you feel fortunate to be there to witness it yourself, in person, to be living the music with them. If this sentiment were to be captured in a two-word phrase, I think “live music” would serve the purpose quite exceptionally.