EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Searching for Safety: The concert listener beyond the limits of the concert hall

Tatjana Böhme-Mehner

Tatjana Böhme-Mehner, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg (Germany) adresse email :


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There are not many institutions which are as established in the music market as the traditional concert in the field of so-called ‘serious’ music. Thus, anyone going to buy a concert ticket usually knows – more or less – what they will get. The purchase will include a kind of unofficial guarantee: about two hours of announced sound art, which can be enjoyed as part of a group of people of more or less the same cultural background. Even if many forms of presentation do not feature in this concept – partially or even more generally – this model is the basis of the western music system.
Buying a concert ticket thus usually means making a communicational arrangement, a social agreement in order to draw the line between the possible and the impossible. The concert in its role of a social agreement is discussed. It appears to be a search for safety. Every presentation project – even if it questions one or more parts of what is guaranteed – deals with this contract. The aesthetic positions of artists who participate have already been analysed from several perspectives. In this text it is questioned the role of the listener within this arrangement.
Two examples are presented in order to show, what this can mean in the field of experimental music in the wider sense: The traditional ‘Landmaschinensinfonie’ (Symphony of agricultural machines) at the Stelzen Festival bei Reuth (Germany) and at the same place the so called ‘Bach-Wiese’.

EMS14 Proceedings