2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Elena Gabor

Bradley University
To Hide or to Reveal - The Musician's Body as Text
The sport show cannot be contemplated in the absence of the body. Although one can listen to a soccer game on the radio, one listens to descriptions of bodies moving a ball toward a goal. On the contrary, music lovers claim that their focus is on the production of sounds, so listening to a concert on the radio does not require the imagination of the bodies of the musicians. Furthermore, hiding the musician’s body behind a screen for blind auditions focuses the audience’s attention on the sound. Since the 70’s, blind auditions have helped reduce sex discrimination in professional orchestras and have increased opportunities for minorities. In contrast, in sports, there are no tryouts where the coach doesn’t see the athlete’s body. As one reaches soloist status, the musician’s body is often regarded as part of the artistic message during performance. Soloists are scrutinized for movement, facial expressions, fitness, appeal, attire and showmanship. This paper uses a career development lens and data from qualitative interviews with classical musicians to discuss gendered socialization messages and aspects of the physical performance amidst claims that classical music is an art of the pure sound. Findings show that the body as text is never neutral.