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Journal Article

The audience as artist? The audience’s experience of participatory music


Toelle,  Jutta
Department of Music, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;

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Toelle, J., & Sloboda, J. A. (2021). The audience as artist? The audience’s experience of participatory music. Musicae Scientiae, 25(1), 67-91. doi:10.1177/1029864919844804.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-9BE9-8
This study aimed to uncover potential effects on and meanings experienced by audience members who participated in performances (‘participants’) of intentional efforts to integrate participatory elements in art music practice. We document a recent project in which two contemporary composers were commissioned to write new pieces including parts for audience participants. We analysed observational and questionnaire data from three concerts that interrogated the experiences of participants at three participatory performances in different countries (n = 273), and identified key emergent themes from participant responses: special group experience, interactive musical experience, experiencing shifting power relationships as well as an evaluative theme about the consequences of participatory elements. These categories connected substantially to concepts of active/passive, empowerment and community prevalent in discourses about participatory theatre. Quantitative analysis of participants’ ratings showed high levels of affective and cognitive engagement, moderated most by prior attendance at a preparatory workshop, and least by demographics or levels of prior musical engagement/experience.