Skip to main content

Music, Multimedia and Spectacle: The one-man band and audience relationships in the digital age

  • Julian Whittam (a1)

The one-man band is a highly performative musical practice which combines visual spectacle and musical production. As digital and electronic technologies play an increasingly important role in our lives and change the ways in which music is produced, performed and consumed, the traditional one-man band with a bass drum on his back and cymbals between his knees provides an interesting model through which to examine both our relationship with technology and the importance of embodiment and visual spectacle in developing and maintaining audience/performer relationships. Furthermore, for digital performance artists, the model of the traditional one-man band can provide interesting inspiration for new works.

Corresponding author
Hide All
ARS Electronica. 2013. ARS Electronica – Center. (accessed 31 January 2013).
Aubert, L. 2001. La musique de l’autre: les nouveaux défis de l’ethnomusicologie. Geneva: Georg/Ateliers d’ethnomusicologie.
Augé, M. 1992. Non-lieux: introduction à une anthropologie de la supermodernité. Paris: Seuil.
Auslander, P. 2000. Liveness, Mediatization, and Intermedial Performance. Degrés: Revue de synthèse à orientation sémiologique 101(Spring).
Auslander, P. 2006. Music as Performance: Living in the Immaterial World. Theatre Survey 47(2): 261269.
Austen, J. 2002. One Man Band Encyclopedia. Roctober! 34: 10.
Austin, J. 1975. How to do Things with Words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Bauman, R. 1977. Verbal Art as Performance. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Bauman, R. 1992. Performance. In Folklore, Cultural Performances, and Popular Entertainments: A Communications-centered Handbook. New York: Oxford University Press.
Beeman, W. O. 1993. The Anthropology of Theatre and Spectacle. Annual Review of Anthropology 22: 369393.
Brackett, D. 1995. Interpreting Popular Music. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Bricka, R. 2007. Mes traversées pacifiques. Paris: Éditions du Rocher.
Butler, J. 1988. Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory. Theatre Journal 40(4): 519531.
Calogirou, C., Cipriani-Crauste, M. and Touché, M. 1997. Les Vermandel, hommes-orchestres de père en fils depuis 120 ans. In F. Gétreau and M. Colardelle (eds.) Musiciens des rues de Paris: Musée national des arts et traditions populaires, 18 novembre 1997–27 avril 1998. Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) 2012. AI: The Answer to Cosmic Loneliness. Tapestry. Canada: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Cascone, K. 2003. Grain, Sequence, System: Three Levels of Reception in the Performance of Laptop Music. Contemporary Music Review 22(4): 101104.
Chapman, D. 2013. The ‘One-man Band’ and Entrepreneurial Selfhood in Neoliberal Culture. Popular Music 32(03): 451470.
Cross, G. 1990. A Social History of Leisure Since 1600. State College, PA: Venture Publishing.
Delalande, F. 1988. Le geste, outil d’analyse: Queslques enseignements d’une recherche sur la gestique de Glenn Gould. Analyse musicale 10: 4346.
Eadicicco, L. and Weinberger, M. 2015. Google is Partnering with Levi’s to Create Smart Pants that can Control your Phone. Business Insider.–5 (accessed 20 June 2015).
Emerson, D. and Emerson, H. 2003. Let Me Be Your Band. Canada: One Eye Blinking.
Fabian, J. 1990. Power and Performance: Ethnographic Explorations through Proverbial Wisdom and Theater in Shaba, Zaire. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Fournel, V. 1867. Ce qu’on voit dans les rues de Paris. Paris: E. Dentu.
Gellez, A.-C., Guezet, B. and Pernis, A. 2013. We are a One Man Band. Canada: Vidéo Femmes.
Gétreau, F. 2000. L’homme orchestre: deux siècles de tradition française. Revue du Louvre: la revue des musées de France 50(5): 6776.
Gille, B. 1978. Histoire des techniques. Paris: Gallimard.
Godlovitch, S. 1993. The Integrity of Musical Performance. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 51(4): 573587.
Goffman, E. 1959. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
Hankin, L. 2012. Female Subway Musicians a Rarity. Global Art Laid Out, 29 June.
Harris, D. 2012. Head, Hands and Feet: A Book of One Man Bands. Victoria, BC: Dave Harris.
Hymes, D. 1981. In Vain I Tried to Tell You: Essays in Native American Ethnopoetics. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Inomata, T. and Coben, L. 2006. Overture: An Invitation to the Archaeological Theater. In T. Inomata and L. S. Coben (eds.) Archeology of Performance: Theaters of Power, Community, and Politics. Toronto: Alta Mira Press.
Jordà, S. 2002. Afasia: The Ultimate Homeric One-man-multimedia-band. NIME-02. Dublin: NIME.
Kemp, A. D. 1998. This Black Body in Question. In P. Phelan and J. Lane (eds.) The End of Performance. New York: New York University Press.
Leveratto, J.-M. 2006. Introduction à l’anthropologie du spectacle. Paris: La Dispute.
MacAloon, J. J. 1984. Olympic Games and the Theory of Spectacle in Modern Societies. In J. J. MacAloon (ed.) Rite, Drama, Festival, Spectacle: Rehearsals Toward a Theory of Cultural Performance. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues.
McNamee, D. 2014. ‘Technology Addiction’ – How should it be Treated?’ (accessed 31 August 2015).
Oliver, P. 2003. One-Man Band. In J. Shepard, D. Horn, D. Laing, P. Oliver and P. Wicke (eds.) Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. Volume 2: Performance and Production. London: Continuum.
Paine, G. 2008. Gesture and Morphology in Laptop Music Performance. In R. T. Dean (ed.) The Oxford Companion of Computer Music and Digital Sound Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Rammel, H. 1990. Joe Barrick’s One-Man Band: A History of the Piatarbajo and Other One-Man Bands. Musical Traditions 8. (accessed 31 August 2015).
Schafer, R. M. 1977. The Tuning of the World. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Schechner, R. 2006. Performance Studies: An Introduction. New York: Routledge.
Schilling, C. 2005. The Body in Culture, Technology & Society. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Schloss, W. A. 2003. Using Contemporary Technology in Live Performance: The Dilemma of the Performer. Journal of New Music Research 32(3): 239242.
Singer, M. 1972. When a Great Tradition Modernizes: An Anthropological Approach to Indian Civilization. New York: Praeger.
Storey, J. 1997. An Introduction to Cultural Theory and Popular Culture. Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
Tait, S. M. 2015 [1999]. McRorie Live Electronic. (accessed 12 May 2015).
Thompson, W. F., Graham, P. and Russo, F. A. 2005. Seeing Music Performance: Visual Influences on Perception and Experience. Semiotica 156: 203227.
Turner, V. 1977. Process, System, and Symbol: A New Anthropological Synthesis. Daedalus 106(3): 6180.
Turner, V. 1986. The Anthropology of Performance. New York: PAJ.
Whitecross, M. 2014. A Sky Full of Stars (video).
Whittam, J. 2014. L’homme-orchestre et le corps en musique. In M. Desroches, S. Stévance and S. Lacasse (eds) Quand la musique prend corps. Montréal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal.
Wilcox, D. 2012. ‘’ (accessed 1 October 2012).
Wilcox, D. 2007. robotcowboy: A One-Man Band Musical Cyborg. Master’s thesis, Göteborg University.
Wilson-Bokowiec, J. and Bokowiec, M. A. 2006. Kinaesonics: The Intertwining Relationship of Body and Sound. Contemporary Music Review 25: 4757.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Organised Sound
  • ISSN: 1355-7718
  • EISSN: 1469-8153
  • URL: /core/journals/organised-sound
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed