Many folks weighed in late last week about the tuxedo via twitter. I had a hard time getting out some of these thoughts in 140 characters, so decided to write up some of my ideas here. I hope you enjoy, its a great discussion.
The orchestra is a gigantic, antiquated, hulking, financially unsustainable, mannered, ceremonious, unapproachable, beautiful, opulent, complicated beast. Its like a manatee; too big, too slow, too cool, and will probably be hit by a boat. But I love the orchestra. I can barely imagine another dress that would be fitting for such a group. The tuxedo is the anachronistic costume for an institution teetering on the brink of cultural irrelevancy. Why shouldn’t they wear equally irrelevant dress?
The tuxedo shows a graciousness that is often lacking in the presentation of music. There is a generosity in preparing music for another person. In essence, you say, “this is important to me, and I’ve taken the time to share it with you.” Conversely, the audience//listener is gracious in their gift of attention and focus on the sounds presented. On one hand, no amount of polyester tails will create this relationship for you. On another hand, there is a generosity and recognition of the gravity of the situation when you dress in such formalwear. That being said, I don’t think that people always want//need gravity or recognition. I think people want to have an everyday interaction with sound in their lives, and the antiquated nature of formalwear says “this is not for everyday.” Then, how do we move forward to create art that can be with people in their normal lives?
I do believe that new music needs new dress. I dress with respect for the music and my audience, but it would be disingenuous to show up in tails. Simply, its not me. However, the experience of playing music for other people is more about sharing, empathy, and presence of mind (rather than an implicit high-society interaction that appears with the tux.) The present moment is reachable when a listener is comfortable and willing to give their time to a sound. This is the only prerequisite for experiencing great music: open generosity of attention. Additionally, if we create music in our present place, present culture, and present time I believe we should wear whatever that time//place//culture asks us to wear. At wildUp, we play music to our peers; our local coffee shop owners, visual artists, designers, accountants, waiters, etc… and fellow musicians. My bet is to dress like my audience, my friends, my peers. I am a member of my community and i would like to share some sounds with my neighbors.