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Tweet Seats: Gabriel Kahane

Welcome to winter’s first tweet seats event: Gabriel Kahane & yMusic on Janury 17 (they perform again on January 18!).

Meet the participants.

UMS: Tell us a little about you. If you have an online presence you like to share publically, please tell us the relevant websites or user names/handles.

Corey Smith: I am a junior at the University of Michigan majoring in Music Composition. I’m a composer, but also a poet and performance artist. I tweet @Corey_D_Smith and if I ever actually get around to it, I’m starting up a blog at

Hannah Weiner: I’m a junior studying English and Philosophy, an editorial intern for UMS, and I’m about to begin writing an Honors thesis on the relationship between poetry and hip-hop. I’ve written concert and album reviews for a couple publications on campus, most recently: I have a casual music blog where I post about new music:

Cody Takacs: I am a recent graduate of the School of Music earning my BM in Double Bass Performance. I appear frequently as a soloist specializing in new music with performances ranging from the University of Michigan’s Collage Concert to Carnegie Hall. As an educator, I have been the double bass instructor for Skyline High School’s orchestra and chamber music coach for Michigan Bass Bash.

UMS: In one sentence, how would you describe your relationship with technology?

Corey Smith: From the video games I played as a kid to the notation software I use to write music, technology has impacted almost every area of my life, for better or for worse. I’ve grown up with it and I am excited by it, thrilled at how it can expand communication, information, art, and the world.

Hannah Weiner: I don’t hate technology, but I have a more intimate relationship with people (and things) when technology is left out of the equation.

Cody Takacs: I use technology to build and maintain a strong musical network and also to share and express my musical ideas.

UMS: Why did you decide to participate in this project?

Corey Smith: I’m terribly interested in the capacity for social media to enhance an artistic experience and I’m particularly captured by the possibilities offered by Twitter. It’s brief, powerful, and (perhaps most importantly) exists in real time, allowing for a democratic and real dialogue to occur while the performance is happening. When I heard that UMS was opening up the tweet seats, I just knew I had to apply.

Hannah Weiner: In a weird way, broadcasting my immediate reactions might make me appreciate the performance more than I would if I didn’t have to think about what messages I was trying to send out. I’m curious how Twitter will affect my experience with live music.

Cody Takacs: As I mentioned in the second question, I like to use technology to share and express my musical thoughts and ideas. I feel that the Tweet Seats project would allow me a great opportunity to relay my thoughts and ideas to my musical network and even public at large.

UMS: To you, what does it mean to “be present” during a performance or another arts experience?

Corey Smith: Presence for me is pursuit of a state of higher awareness. It is complete and total engagement with the moment in hope that I forget about my body for a second, and become subsumed in the artistic present. It means physical, emotional, and intellectual engagement with the experience in the hope that I can touch the sublime.

Hannah Weiner: I think it’s pretty simple – being alert and attuned to the messages that the artist is trying to send you. Mostly just being aware of how a performance makes you feel, or what it makes you think, and then having a conversation with yourself (or others) about why and how the artist does that.

Cody Takacs: To be “present” at a performance to me means 1) that the listener is physically present and 2) that they are mentally experiencing the performance on one or a combination of any of Aaron Copland’s three planes of listening that find best suiting for their own listening experience (the sensual, expressive, and sheerly musical planes).

Meet the tweets.

UMS: How did tweeting affect your experience of the performance?

Corey Smith: There was a certain level of detached concentration that the tweet seats demanded. I was engaged with the music at a very cognitive level, always ready to find something else to notice and then tweet about. It certainly allowed me to stay alert and in a constant state of analysis, but perhaps didn’t let me become too emotionally engaged in the performance.

Cody Takacs: From a listening standpoint, I feel that tweeting didn’t really change the way I listened or payed attention during the performance. This is the type of performance I’d normally be intrigued with all the details of what’s happening in the music and on stage rather than simply being present at a performance, sitting back, and relaxing to it. If anything, sometimes I felt obligated to tweet, and tweeted for the sake of tweeting something. Overall, I did really enjoy the experience because I was able to share my thoughts on the performance immediately when I had them.

Hannah Weiner: Tweeting made me more self-conscious of my role as an audience member. I felt like I was constantly asking the question of “What should I be doing?”, so tweeting forced me to decide what parts of the concert I was going to acknowledge and focus on. Since the other two people in the tweet seats study music, I realized if I was going to broadcast any of my musical knowledge, it would pale in comparison to their analysis. I instead found myself enjoying what I knew about the concert – Kahane’s references to contemporary poets, his lyrics, etc.

UMS: Did you expect this effect or are you surprised by this outcome?

Cody Takacs: For the most part, this is how I expected my Tweet Seat experience to go. In general, Tweet Seats is a wonderful experience that I look forward to participating in in upcoming concerts!

Corey Smith: It was certainly surprising! But it’s worth noting that the performance was no less fantastic because I stayed in a particular head space. Tweeting forced me to stay engaged in a very analytic way, but there was so much to enjoy that the I really don’t think I lost very much at all! Although I was ready to be away from my phone for a while after the show…

Hannah Weiner: I had a feeling tweeting would make me analyze the concert more, but I didn’t expect it to make me think about my role as an audience member. Usually, I listen to the music passively and don’t think much about why it’s making me feel a certain way. I assumed tweeting would force me to take an active role, but I didn’t anticipate any step in between “passive member” and “active member.”

How do you feel about using technology during live performances?