This chapter centers on the social dimensions of performance, and in particular on how musical compositions can be seen as scripting social interaction. The chapter begins by outlining ethnographic approaches to performance, distinguishing classic ethnography, autoethnography, and what the chapter terms the Elvis impersonation method. The central section of the chapter interprets performance as a form of social action, asking to what extent musical and social relationships are the same thing. The final section is a study of the role of the score in “New Complexity’ music: structured around the work of Brian Ferneyhough and Bryn Harrison, it shows how what looks like an extreme example of sound specification designed for reproduction in performance is in fact seen by its practitioners as embodying a relational practice. Composition entails not just the designing of sounds but also the scripting of social interaction and personal development.
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