Tuesday, December 8, 2009

When It's Sleepytime

"Using extremely standardized conventions, artists can coordinate their activity under the most difficult circumstances. When I played the piano in Chicago nightclubs in the 1940s, we typically played seven or eight hours a night. Toward the end of an evening, players got quite tired and sleepy. I discovered that the extreme conventionalization of the popular songs we played meant I could play when I was half, or more than half, asleep. I would often wake up in the middle of a song, getting lost only when I realized that I had been asleep and consequently had no idea where I was. Until then, I must have made use of my knowledge that all the phrases of the song were eight bars long, that they used only a few chords from the many possibilities available, and that those were arranged in a few standardized ways."

— Howard S. Becker, Art Worlds, 58