On the Stand: Putting Repertoire to Work

in “Do You Know …?”

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780226239217
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226239224 | DOI:
On the Stand: Putting Repertoire to Work

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How do people who may not even know each other or have ever played together, and who have no written music in front of them, play together competently in front of an audience for several hours? By listening to and learning earlier and elsewhere in their musical lives. We know the kinds of places in which they play. We know how their tastes and knowledge vary depending on historical circumstances. We are ready to understand what happens when all that converges and they actually play together, climb on to the bandstand, adjust their instruments, and the leader (if there is one) says, “OK, gentlemen. Show time!” We can say that the players “enact” the repertoire as they make their collective choice and play it, turn it from what might happen into what did happen. Musicians do not choose what they play from such a list, nor are their choices the same from one performance to the next. Songs get played as the result of on-the-spot negotiations between players at the moment of public performance.

Keywords: bandstand; musicians; repertoire; performance; music; listening; learning; negotiations; songs; players

Chapter.  11871 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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