Wednesday, October 5

Proposal for 3rd Year Project

A Performance of Original Songs

In writing and developing the songs and performance, these are the sorts of areas that I will be considering:

Can a singer/performer be ‘themselves’ on stage?
Do people always present an image of themselves to the outside world?
Might an artist be more themselves on stage than in daily life?
Is a singer ‘acting’ less if they perform a song they have written themselves? Is this even more true if the song is autobiographical?
Is interpretation enough to make somebody else’s song your own?

How do lyrics, music and performance work together to communicate a song?
How significant is each of these elements to the meaning of the song?
What happens if the music is altered but the lyrics stay the same?
What if the same song is performed in different styles?
How can tone of voice/ register/ vocal training effect a performance?
Is a recorded song a performance? What is it that is so different about live performance? What is stage presence?

Can the singer-songwriter control the way an audience perceives a song?
Can a song mean the same thing in two different performances?
How does the context/setting effect the performance/ meaning of a song?
Do certain genres of music automatically assume certain styles of performance?
In what ways does working with a band alter the songs and performance?
Are songs written for entertainment or for art’s sake? Is there a compromise?

To assist the exploration of these issues, academic essays on song and performance will be consulted as well as cultural theory papers on the performativity and readability of everyday life. The biographies, autobiographies and work of singers, songwriters will be used and the work of some performance artists will also be examined.

The degree of ‘performance’ and honesty in the concerts of such different artists as Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday and Madonna will be compared, and the performance style of diverse genres such as blues, opera, pop, hip-hop and musical theatre will be considered as well as the performance spaces used, raging from theatres and stadiums to intimate rooms and bars.

The theoretical investigation of these ideas will enhance, direct and shape a performance of songs that I will write and develop during the course of the project. The final performance may consist, for example, of songs performed in a way that I have come to believe is most meaningful and interesting, or songs performed in different ways, perhaps in different places, which explore some of the insights I have drawn, or because each song seems to demand a different performance style, framework or audience.

The hope is that through this research, writing and rehearsal process, a performance of songs can be given, which is academically reflective and artistically stimulating.