Performance and Recording
Written by Takefumi Naoshima
How does a recorded performance become a recorded work?
Suppose there's a concert somewhere and that, coincidentally, there's an artist making a field recording near the concert venue. And suppose that in this artist's recording, mixed in with the area's environmental sounds are concert sounds that escaped from the venue. Having obtained permission from the musician, the field recording artist presents the work as his own creation, explaining the circumstances in the album notes. But what if the sounds that "escaped" from the concert are in fact much louder, and the environmental sounds can hardly be heard at all? Wouldn't most listeners perceive the work to be a live recording of a musician's performance?
Suppose that at a certain concert there is a player(-type person) in the venue, but not a single instrument or piece of equipment in sight. The concert begins. The performer just sits there doing nothing, and there's no indication that any sounds will be produced. But the audience has the understanding that "We came here because we saw a notice announcing a concert. This is a concert venue; it's a place where music is played." Isn't it possible that, based on their music-related knowledge and experience, they will use their imaginations and perceive this situation as a musical performance? And if the concert is being recorded, they can reconfirm this idea by saying to themselves, "If it's being recorded, it's definitely a performance." In the context of the concert venue, recording functions as one element making up the concept of playing music. Within the concept of the concert, if there is no concert there is no playing and therefore no recording. In the concert venue, recording is connoted in performance.
Suppose a performance of the same type as the one described above is held in a recording studio, to be released as a recorded work. In the recording studio, musical performance is disconnected from the concert venue and the audience and becomes an independent phenomenon. So it can't really be said that this performance is the same as the performance at the concert venue. Within the concept of the studio recording, if there is no plan to release a recorded work, there is no recording and therefore no performance. In the recording studio, performance is connoted in recording.
Thus, the relationship between performance and recording is not a one-way street, but something that changes according to the performance and recording circumstances. For a recorded performance to become a recorded work, what is required is close observation of this relationship's transformation.
(Translation by Cathy Fishman)
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