In Concert

Performing Musical Persona
Phillip Auslander
Examining how performers engage and delight their audience through persona, appearance, and spectacle


The conventional way of understanding what musicians do as performers is to treat them as producers of sound; some even argue that it is unnecessary to see musicians in performance as long as one can hear them.  But musical performance, counters Philip Auslander, is also a social interaction between musicians and their audiences, appealing as much to the eye as to the ear. In Concert: Performing Musical Persona he addresses not only the visual means by which musicians engage their audiences through costume and physical gesture, but also spectacular aspects of performance such as light shows.

Although musicians do not usually enact fictional characters on stage, they nevertheless present themselves to audiences in ways specific to the performance situation.  Auslander’s term to denote the musician’s presence before the audience is musical persona.  While presence of a musical persona may be most obvious within rock and pop music, the book’s analysis extends to classical music, jazz, blues, country, electronic music, laptop performance, and music made with experimental digital interfaces. The eclectic group of performers discussed include the Beatles, Miles Davis, Keith Urban, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Frank Zappa, B. B. King, Jefferson Airplane, Virgil Fox, Keith Jarrett, Glenn Gould, and Laurie Anderson.

Philip Auslander is Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Product Details

  • 304 pages.
  • 20 photographs, 2 diagrams.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2021
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12839-6

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  • Music, Performance, Persona, Philip Auslander, Rock Music, Pop Music, Country Music, Classical Music, Jazz, musical perception, musical cognition, Erving Goffman, symbolic interactionism, frame analysis, The Beatles, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Glenn Gould, Keith Jarrett, B. B. King, Mari Kimura, musical robots, musical genre, pop stardom, improvisation, concerts, music videos, concert films, postmodernism, hyper-modernism, Beatlemania, Miles Davis, The Kinks, Keith Urban, musical instruments, psychedelic light shows