Compose / rehearse / perform

Theatre, dance and musical performance generally share the following structure: There is an initial stage where the work is composed, then a period when it is rehearsed, and finally the work is performed one or more times in front of an audience.

Each of these three stages has its own distinct properties. Composition is often (although not always) done by one individual, generally over a long period of time. For example, a work that an audience will experience for ninety minutes might require months or even years to compose.

Researsal is interesting, in that it takes place in an intermediate time-frame — generally performative, and yet not at all optimized for an audience. For example, a group researsing a work of theatre or music might repeat the same passage many times.

The audience on some level senses all this prior effort at the time of actual performance, but those efforts cannot subsume the performance itself. In the implied contract with one’s audience, the considerable sweat and toil of composition and rehearsal need to remain offstage.

One of the exciting qualities of of this three part structure lies in the rich opportunities it affords for feedback and iteration. Either researsal or performance can lead to modification of the composition itself. Unlike, say, a film, a theatrical, dance or musical performance is never entirely fixed — each performance is unique, and is subtly influenced by that evening’s audience.

What if we apply this structure of composition/rehearsal/performance to other domains? That’s a topic for tomorrow.

My ISP had technical problems the day this post was created, so apologies if you are only first seeing it the following day.

3 thoughts on “Compose / rehearse / perform”

  1. Profile-directed optimization feels like rehearsal, and the variations informed by earlier processing but chosen gracefully at performance time suggests adaptive branch prediction (and/or branch predication).

  2. In theater and musical performances (and probably elsewhere) there is another major phase between the composition and the rehearsals – where the company designs and builds the performance. You could even view it a 2-part phase – the first is in some ways like the original composition, where one or more people take the original play/score and tailor it to their needs/desires. The second is where the sets, costumes, and so on are built. For example, I’ve seen at least a dozen different versions of the Christmas Carol….

    Depending on your point of view, this could also be considered the composition phase if you take the original play/music/whatever to be part of your raw materials.

  3. Good point Katrin. I agree with you that the tailoring of the piece and the sets/costumes are both examples of original work in their own right. Which means that they too have a composition/rehearsal/performance cycle, just like any other original work that is intended to be performed.

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