Sight and Sound
Katz explains the process of how the emergence of sound recording technology dramatically made the value of sight in music to wither, but he also claims the importance of visual performance. “Edison’s Realism Test” is one of the examples (Katz 23). Edison gives steps of directions to compensate the major shortcoming of phonograph, the lack of visual performance, by training listeners to imagine themselves as if they are in some concerts. His effort to revive the visuality in music may seem questionable to some people. Today, people enjoy having their own private time by listening to music with their own electronic device and headphones and assign their own contextual meanings to music depending on situations and emotions. However, before the emergence of phonograph, music was not solely interpreted by oneself, but it had formed its meaning through the communications between performers and audience.
When Phonograph was just introduced by Edison, people were excited by the novelty and the convenience, but some also expressed their anxiety for invisibility of the actual source of music, the musicians. McGurk’s finding provide very intriguing evidence of how what we hear is influenced by what we see (Katz 25). McGurk Effect reflects people’s tendency of determining what they hear by what they see. It would also apply to music apprecit ation. Without seeing the performance, it is very unlikely for listeners to recognized the emotional message that performers intended to transmit to them. Performers’ intense or gentle facial expression, gestures, and technical motions during the performance were important factors that enable audience to be absorbed to music and makes audience easy to understand the nuance too.
Performers also felt anxious about invisibility of audience. Although audience had caused fear and tension among performers, performers were able to express their sincerity and love of music toward the audience directly, but LP was a huge barrier to them to learn the impression of the listners after they were done performing. Some musicians said that they take inspiration from audience during their performance and said that they had enjoyed the claps and cheer when they finished performances (28). On the other hand, some good-looking singers took advantage of invisibility of performance through lip-synch and obtained huge popularity by releasing albums with someone else’s voice recorded (26). Invisibiliy of performance brought frustration to some artists and also provided a dishonest way to become famous and popular.
Recorded sound was a great source of music that enable people to enjoy unlimited service of music performance without actual musicians’ presence. However, lack of visuality brought anxiety to both audience and performer’s many aspects. Although people are now quite comfortable with invisibility of performances, I think, it was quite natural for many to felt anxious considering those inconvinient features that Katz pointed out.