CAHSS Faculty Articles

Liminal Observation in Multi-Disciplinary Performance: MTV Meets Franz Schubert

Bill J. Adams, Nova Southeastern University


The combination of exceptional poetry and masterfully crafted music react to create the art song in which one plus one is three. The performance of the art song masterpiece “Erlkönig” is more than the sum of its parts. The words of Goethe plus the music of Schubert explode into a work of art which is simultaneously expansive and diminutive, thrilling and horrifying. In the traditional song recital format, songs are performed standing near a piano – no costumes, no special lighting, and with little more than generalized movement and facial expressions to convey the story. If one does not understand the German text or if part of the performance is recorded, how does this affect the equation? What if visual images are added which may complement or contradict the poetic story? This paper will explore performance by creating, blurring, and/or destroying relationships within song/s and throughout the audience by manipulating visual image, text, and live performance. Through this process new paradigms might be established building audiences for song recitals, creating fodder for filmmakers, inspiring the composition of new works, and providing educational tools for performers and teachers.