Composition in performance, the future

Composition in performance, the future

Robin Sloan asks, what if the magazine article of the future, the album of the future, and the novel of the future are all the same thing, live events:

It’s an amazing live event that happens… every night! But I don’t really like the associa tion, because it implies so much about format, tone, scale — lots of things. There’s a reason I’m build­ing my perfect weapon out of TED and Phoot Camp, not Jay Leno and Char­lie Rose. At the very beginning I said this was the magazine article of the future, the album of the future, the novel of the future. It stretches a bit here, but I think it’s a fun stretch.

He goes on to describe the five properties that make these events a media product: Live, Generative, Publishable, Performative, and Serial.

This (and the entirety of the post which is truly necessary to bring the argument together) reinforce what Walter Ong refers to as “secondary orality.”

I always get excited to see Ong in practice.

But even more fascinating: this is evidence of a potential return to the oral tradition in practice. Studies of some of the oldest living oral cultures demonstrate that the structure of oral narrative itself, before the advent of writing, show this pattern. Prior to the advent of writing — long before texts of any kind — performers would compose oral narratives much in the way Robin describes, relying on generative formulas. They were composing texts while they were performing them live. The “publishable” aspect was different, of course, but the intent the same.

Social media has long been showing signs we’re returning there, but the event aspect pointed out here feels like a new step in this direction.