Simply put, art is perception. Although many 20th-century composers adopted the mantra of Milton Babbitt (“Who cares if you listen?”) and often ignored their audience completely, the inescapable fact remains that the essence of art is not merely expression, but communication. This acknowledgment compels the artist to consider not only the content of his message, but the way in which that content will be decoded by the recipient.
While the importance of perspective is universally understood in visual art, it is often overlooked in music. Rarely do musicians make conscious choices to alter the nuances of their performance based on the perspective of the listener. However, if we want to communicate musical ideas faithfully, we must consider how we’re conveying the desired musical messages, taking into account the context, contact (medium of communication), and code (common language).
Dan Kreider has another thoughtful blog post up, this one daring to go into communication with the audience: