Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A shocking idea?

Gauging Live Audience Interest

Here's an idea. If you intend to apply this idea to an actual event, please get in touch with me, as I'd love to be a part of it. There are so many interesting things that might happen in this context, and I would die to see it happen.

It's a standard saying in the classical music industry, that you can't measure emotions, but actually...you can.
Relatively simple devices can be applied to the human skin to measure conductance (a.k.a. galvanic skin response), which is a measurement of a persons arousal, excitement or tension.
The same technique is used in lie detectors (...and b.t.w. also in an bizarre instrument deviced by the founder of a certain international cult.)

Here's how to do it: Advertise for volunteers among your audience. Before the show starts, you hook them up to a device each. Then, connect the devices to a piece of software that translates and averages the measurements and then outpouts to gauge in form of a a large graphic display, similar to perhaps a gameshow scoreboard.
Alternatively, one could use a programmable lighting setup, in which the light gravitates from blue to orange as the tension rises. Or maybe, you could administer an mild electric shock to the conductor whenever the result fall below a certain threshold. (hehe)

"That! Using Ludwig van like that!
He did no harm to anyone. Beethoven just wrote music"

To be completely serious: with a live measurement and graphic display of the audience's realtime interest in what an orchestra is performing, the bar is immediately raised. Orchestra members and conductors cannot ignore the results (unless they are creationists and used to ignoring scientific facts), and we will be forced to deal the results, much in the same way that professional athletes have been dealing with scientific measurement for decades now.

I want so badly to try this. Even if I might be setting myself up for horrible failure ("Am I really that boring??"), I would most certainly learn something.
As a bonus, we will also learn a lot about the pieces we perform, and how the audience responds the a certain type of programming. It might be very different from what we expect.

It is imperative that as many listeners are hooked up as possible. There will be a natural variance, and to even out the variables, at least 10-20 subjects would be needed. At the moment, I have no realistic idea of what the costs are for this type of experiment, but I bet it's not cheap. Perhaps it would be suitable for a university program?

Any thoughts?

Pros: Percieved innovation beneficial in interaction with legislators and in attracting new audiences, increased performer awareness, focus on the 'payoff' aspect, measurability.

Cons: Performers' inherent fear of scientific measurement of music, dealing with possibly uncomfortable results, unfamiliar logistics, expenses.


johs said...

First: Is the pretty Thai Girl on your blog wall a friend of yours?
And then: Interesting idea with the direct response to music. I hera they've done that for centuries in Sicilia: When the audience is bored they start chatting with each other, ie.: the more silent the auditorium the more the audience is in to the performance.

Jesper Nordin said...

Thai girl? Probably an add I guess :)
Silence is always a god gauge, but with actual physical mwasurement, there's cold hard data to refer to. That was the idea anyway.

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If you could magically create your dream conductor, but he/she could only posess one quality, he/she should preferably be...