Live music is something special (If that’s something new to you, then we need to be having a different conversation). There’s a particular aspect of it that I’d like to tease out and over analyse: the crowd dynamics. The mass of people in the audience becomes this kind of singular entity. The crowd and the band feed off each other in a cyclical loop. When people talk about a band having a really good stage presence, those are the musicians who know how to create this loop. I’m reminded of the looping emotional feedback you can get from sex, which is apt given the connection between popular music and sex. I briefly talked about this here, but not in much detail (hmm, maybe another post on it is warranted).
This is something fans of music have obviously known about. The ecstatic feedback loop is the core of many powerful emotions though. There’s many way to trigger it, it’s just that most people only see their own chosen method as “The” method. Connecting it to other ecstasies is finding the root. I’m not interested in making this some boring, purely analytical thing. What is important is to understand how we work. Like I said in Charades, knowing gives you power over yourself. It allows you to curb these underlying mental programs when their damaging or embrace them when they’re wonderful.
Crowd dynamics spread far beyond music. Political crowds are a good example, but often not executed properly. There’s gotta be some evolutionary reason that music/art can hit that resonant feedback thing easier than linguistics. A speaker must be truly great to achieve it whereas many musicians seem to be able to. Without the loop needed for that ecstasy it can just sound bland.
Religious speakers have certainly achieved it and I’m sure we can think of the more dangerous political figures who’ve done it. Which leads to the fact that ecstasy is not necessarily good. It’s powerful and emotional and wild. Like emotions, it’s neither good nor bad; it’s just us, human. Hence how wonderful music can feel. Hence how dangerous the mob can be.
When a crowd merges into a larger entity, it takes on something similar to what human psyche’s have. The crowd is the body, the higher order being existing somewhere in the space between. People not participating, yet still within the crowd are alien organisms. They can pull you out of the collective by their very presence. It’s the immune response of a collective organism to reject those that don’t conform. We’ve all seen the people at a concert too cool to dance. They’re thinking about their own ego, how they look as individuals, to partake in the ecstasy.
In music it’s merely an annoyance.
In politics it’s terrifying.