How can we creatively enhance our musical experiences? Are there ways we can make spaces for more intimate close listening—benefiting both performers and audiences?
One new worldwide movement is known as Sofar (Songs From A Room) Sounds. Originating about 5 years ago in London, Sofar Sounds describes their intimate living room concerts like this:
“We ask that 100% of your attention is given to the music. That means no talking/texting during the performances. We strive to create an environment where music is respected. Come on time and stay until the end.”
Here is how singer-songwriter Kate Davis tells it:
“I’ve had qualms with ‘performances’ before, within many genre types. Sometimes performances can be circus-y. Calculated. Emotionally reserved. Perhaps even a situation where the audience feels alienated. . . . However, my main intention is to communicate, share my art, and offer some kind of message. . . . With an experience like Sofar Sounds, the opportunities for sharing and communication are endless. You sit right in front of someone who is listening to your every word, feeling your every harmonic move, and thus truly committing themselves to your musical moment.”
And then, taking a slightly different approach, there’s The Bugle Boy with its 80-seat listening room, in La Grange, Texas. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, The Bugle Boy offers:
“a space where you go to listen. Talking is not permitted during a performance. A Listening Room environment creates the best and most intimate experience that an artist can share with an attentive audience. It’s like having a personal, live concert in your own living room!”
Creatively enhancing our musical experiences can take other new forms. The Bugle Boy partners with the online performance provider Concert Window. Self-described as “passionate about bringing live music online, in a way that helps musicians, venues, and fans,” Concert Window uses contemporary digital technology to re-present intimate live music into our own “living room” listening spaces.
Singer-songwriter John Fullbright recently playing at The Bugle Boy—and more broadly shared via Concert Window—epitomizes these new/old ways of experiencing music: