What Is a Concert?

A concert is a group of musicians or singers playing music together for a large audience. They usually play in a hall or some other type of special building that is designed for concerts. The music can be classical, pop, or rock. There may or may not be a visual element to the concert such as staging, lighting and costumes. Sometimes a concert is part of a larger event such as an opera or musical theater. It is also possible for a concert to be a stand alone event where the performers are playing without any accompaniment.

The word concert comes from the Italian word meaning to harmonize. It was originally used as a verb and meant to combine voices or sounds in a pleasing way. Later it became a noun. In the 17th century, concerts developed as a social institution for the performance of written music outside a religious or dramatic context. The development of the concert form had a strong impact on the music conceived for it. For example, composers such as Bach wrote symphonies to be performed by a whole orchestra while Mozart and Beethoven composed concertos for solo instruments or small groups of them.

During the eighteenth century, the concert evolved into its present form. Silence was standardized, concert halls were built, and the concert experience became more of an established concept. This evolution can be explained in part by the fact that works are played in their entirety and in a particular order. The program also includes an element of interaction between works and thus a sense of dialogue between them. In addition, there is a certain sensitivity to the historical context of the work, and a relationship with the audience.

In recent years, a new perspective has emerged that takes a broad view of the concert. In this view, all aspects of the concert – seating arrangements, ritualized behavior, acoustics and lighting, the dramaturgy of programs, and the professionalization of musicians – are understood as elements in enhancing an aesthetic and social experience.

A concert can be a place for the fruitful confrontation of different times. This is done in a number of ways: through the discerning of heritages or genealogies, of obvious borrowings and formal similarities, through provoking transhistorical encounters between works, etc.

The concert experience varies by musical genre and the artists performing. The nature of the concert will affect the audience and they will tend to be drawn to musicians, bands, or styles that they identify with. For example, a group of people who attend hip hop concerts will tend to dress in a similar style, to wear long hair (in the form of dread locks), and to have a particular attitude toward life that is reflected in their music and concert attendance. Similarly, a folk festival concert will have a different atmosphere from a rock concert. This reflects the fact that music is often a partisan affair. The aims of the artists and the political views of the audience are in conflict. Consequently, the concert experience can be intense and emotional.