But occasionally attention wanes. I mean, there really is a limit to how many times any one human needs to hear Beethoven's Leonore Overture Number Two on any given weekend.
And so, in those moments when I was not "simply transfixed" by the performance in front of me, I found myself consciously attending to the musical contributions of that real audience. As much as we might wish that audiences don't make noise, they do. They cough. Audiences cough because people cough. Audiences are just people. Coughing is a trait of human physiology, apparently, and asking a couple thousand people to sit quietly in an auditorium for twenty minutes or thirty minutes or even more minutes and not make any sound at all is simply an unreasonable request.
I like to think that the coughing is part of the music. Of course it's random coughing. It wasn't composed by anyone, no one used a random number generator or threw the I Ching to decide when each cough would happen. I think random noises are music, if only in a very antiquated sixties avant-garde sort of fashion. And I think that you should think that as well, but I know that there is very little chance that you do. You're probably glad that tonality has returned to music over the last few decades. Frankly, tonality in music is an even more antiquated concept that randomness. (More useful as well.)
Let's assume that most people would prefer their fellow audience members do not cough at all. To that end I discovered a sort of high-tech solution to the problem - much better than the cough suppressant candies which orchestras used to pass out to their audiences. Maybe they still do.
Apparently hunters use this little device, a cough silencer, to not frighten the geese.
Here is the marketing copy for Cabela's Cough Silencer:
Disassembles for quick cleaning
Nonglare matte-black or camouflage finish
Fits easily into a pocket or pack
And they're cheap. This one was marked down from $19.99 to 88 cents (but they're sold out). Concert attendees could buy their own and use them during performances. Better yet, orchestras could buy thousands of them and have the ushers hand them out free along with the program booklet. Better yet, they could be permanently installed on each seat in the concert hall, decorated by the celebrity architect so that they blend with the decor. The cleaning crew would have to disinfect them after each event, maybe adding a little paper cap printed with the words "Guaranteed Germ Free" over the mouthpiece. Like that strip of paper they put over the toilet seat in hotel rooms.Don’t let a cough scare game away. The Cough Silencer has a unique baffle system that quiets even the loudest coughs with no back pressure, and best of all, virtually no sound. Disassembles for quick cleaning. Nonglare matte-black or camouflage finish. Lightweight, durable and incredibly compact, it fits easily into a pocket or pack. Includes convenient lanyard.
If all this seems like too much effort and expense, you might try my idea of redefining coughing as part of the music. But remember, that only works if you think about it.
The concerts which I attended last weekend were graced by several freakishly musically appropriate cell phone eruptions. They fit in perfectly. Unlike coughing, those should have been avoided completely.
You could listen to my piano piece Oil and Water Mix, which is actually about the conflict of tonal music versus random music.
Cough Tags: Cabela's Cough Silencer. . . concert audiences. . . classical music. . . random music. . . tonal music