Playing together, apart: musicians’ experiences of physical separation in a classical recording session

Miriam Iorwerth, Don Knox

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    Abstract

    Classical musicians in ensembles are accustomed to performing in the same physical space. However, situations such as networked music performance (NMP) require physical separation with audio and sometimes video links. Effects of latency on synchronization have been extensively studied; however, research is limited on the effects of physical separation on the subjective experience of musicians. This separation is likely to have an effect on interaction between musicians as usual channels of communication are interrupted. The impact of this physical separation on the experience of classical musicians in a woodwind soloist and piano accompanist setting was investigated. Three pairs of musicians were recorded in acoustically isolated spaces with audio and video links, and were then interviewed using semi-structured interview techniques. Five themes emerged from the data, namely: adaptability, communication, performance, impact on the musicians, and relationships. Within these themes, musical issues, communication, and social interactions were found to be most challenging for separated musicians, while adaptability helped the musicians in this situation. The video link was used rarely when playing. These issues are important in NMP and are related to the physical separation of the musicians, rather than problems such as latency, which are well documented.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)289-299
    Number of pages11
    JournalMusic Perception
    Volume36
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

    Keywords

    • classical musicians
    • physical space
    • communication
    • ensemble, nonverbal communication, performance technology

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