IASPM International Conferences - Proceedings, Situating Popular Musics

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Singing the body electric: Real-time and virtual performance
Marc Duby

Last modified: 2013-01-22


Bruce Cassidy's Body Electric appeared briefly in the 1990s in Johannesburg to perform a number of concerts there, including two concerts at the University of the Witwatersrand. Led by the Canadian-born Cassidy and formed as a “healing band”, the free improvising Body Electric drew on the experience and attitudes of musicians from fairly eclectic backgrounds (the late David Hoenigsberg, a Western art music composer, as well as more ostensibly “jazz” improvisers like Rashid Lanie, Rob Watson, and myself). Examining extracts (posted by Cassidy on YouTube) from Seth Asch's documentary film on the Body Electric's April 1993 performance at the University of the Witwatersrand's Bozzoli Pavilion raises questions around the legacy of exploratory music of this kind. Considering the differences between the original live performance and its current digitised state as historical record, the question arises as to whether and how these performances may be compared to one another.

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