SUNY Plattsburgh Sociology Faculty Work
Definition of the Situation in Live Bluegrass Music Concert Performance: Sound Engineers and MusiciansThis paper examines definitions of the situation held by musicians and sound engineers participating in live bluegrass music concerts in a concert hall setting using sound reinforcement. Successful production of a live bluegrass music concert requires cooperation between the musicians who perform on stage and the sound mix engineer who is responsible for operation of the sound reinforcement system in the concert space. Cooperation between these key actors facilitates the creation of a shared definition of the situation that defines parameters of the roles they expect each other to play. Fundamental to the creation of an effective shared definition of the situation is communication between the musicians and sound engineer. Also basic to situational definitions are musicians' and sound engineers' background assumptions, including whether the sound engineer is primarily a support person or whether he or she makes use of expert knowledge before and during the show and thus takes on the role of creative artist. To examine these interactional processes the author administered a 51-question interview instrument consisting of closed-ended and open-ended questions to a sample of 28 bluegrass musicians and sound engineers in 2015 and 2016. Results of the interviews are analyzed and illustrative excerpts from the respondents comments are highlighted. The author discusses implications of these preliminary findings for interactional processes in a live performance setting.