Beyond the Music documents, musicians and where they play, how they play, and what they play. My work represents what happens behind the scenes, combining the parts that make up the whole Show. Being audience members, we tend to become passive listeners rather than active participants. I am a musician, and I get to see and hear all the critical aspects. I wanted to become the audience's eyes and ears and capture those scenes of activities that we so often tend to miss. Musicians, like any artist, have specific ways to hold their instruments. They make notes and document corrections while continuing to practice. I wanted to document the passion and emotion that goes into every note, whether with the singing, the playing, or capturing how their body responds to their music. Their facial expressions show what they feel while playing or singing, letting the audience know that there is more to music than just reading notes off a piece of paper.
I developed my appreciation for music in second grade when I started to play the flute, performing in ensembles, recitals, church choirs, and musicals which I continue to do today. My thought is not always about the performance, but rather it is what is beyond the performance that makes it more interesting. There are many things that audience members never see, like stopping to make note changes, the look of worry on one's face, and getting into the groove of the music. In addition, audience members rarely see a performance where the musician is not in concert attire or see the soundcheck beforehand. In my piece, Getting Ready, I took the musician's viewpoint and stepped behind her to document what she saw and how she prepared herself. I documented what she did to ensure the sound was in tune before the audience arrived. In the piece Reviewing for the Show, a drummer writes on his music notes with a reminder that will help him later in the concert. Preparing for a show is the time that musicians take to perfect their talents, always making sure they perform the very best.
To show off their talent, time, effort, and passion, I have recorded each musician singing or playing their instrument and included many musicians and groups in my work. Some examples shown here in the photographs are the Amherst Symphony Orchestra, Cory Gallagher tenor vocalist, and Mary Palmer, a WNY music minister. Each photograph documents the voice and instruments in a unique way. I intended to reveal the artist's personality through facial expression and sound, giving the music the life it needs and what the audiences expect.
-Molly Sheehan 2019