Etiquette demands that audiences at Western classical concerts avoid inept noises such as coughs. Yet coughing in concerts occurs more frequently than elsewhere, implying a widespread and intentional breach of concert etiquette.
Listening to music evokes identity, prestige, exclusion, conformity, affirmation of values, and shared aesthetic experiences. In Western classical music, both the norms of concert courtesy (not to cough, say) and individual disobedience to these rules (the deliberate cough) reflect these social phenomena.
This according to “Why do people (not) cough in concerts? The economics of concert etiquette” by Andreas Wagener (Association for Cultural Economics International, 2012).
Many thanks to Improbable research for bringing this to our attention! Below, a very unfortunate cough.
After the East India Company attained a firm foothold in Calcutta in 1757, an influx of English middle-class civil and military personnel brought Western classical music to the subcontinent.
A taste for arrangements of Indian melodies arose among these expatriates, prompting such publications as William Hamilton Bird’s The Oriental Miscellany: Being a collection of the most favourite airs of Hindoostan, compiled and adapted for the harpsichord (Calcutta: Cooper, 1789).
In his introduction Bird complained that the songs’ brevity and “their want of variety” obliged him to compose variations for each one, and that their rhythms cost him “great pains to bring them into any form as to time.”
This according to “Corelli in Calcutta: Colonial music-making in India during the 17th and 18th centuries” by Raymond Head (Early music XIII/4 [November 1985] pp. 548–553).
Above, Johan Zoffany’s Colonel Blair with his family and an Indian ayah (Calcutta, 1786), showing a square piano or clavichord. Below, Daniel Laumans performs a “Hindustan air” arranged by Sophia Plowden around the same time.
Related article: How far can a song travel?
Launched in 2012, Síneris is a monthly Spanish online musicology journal born from the experience of some of the members of the now-extinct Jugar con Fuego.
The journal aims to present research papers, essays, literary creations, opinions, interviews, and criticism of recent works, performances, and writings. It casts a wide net, including Western classical music, ethnomusicological topics, popular music, cinema, and dance.