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At an outdoor concert on a midsummer's day

Jun-ichi Konuma
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University

If you say that you don't have many chances to listen to music over the summer, your friends will surely be left speechless because that's an outdated idea. Nowadays there are countless live performances and concerts taking place in air-conditioned halls, and there are also many being held outdoors. If you go to places out of the city, there are even music festivals.

Going to an outdoor concert under the sun where the blue sky continues forever with only the odd appearance of a cloud is more than just a slight hassle. It makes you want to grumble about having to going through all the trouble to get there. However, with the consequent heat, the crowds, the volume of the music, you forget the "trouble" and rid yourself of the prior awkwardness.

After getting off the train and waiting at the traffic lights to cross the road on the way to the venue, I can hear sounds. There is music, music is been played there.

The World Happiness 2012 was held at the Yumenoshima Athletics Ground on August 12. It was about 10 minutes after the scheduled 12:30 start. The people next to me are somehow light-footed, so I speed up.

There is a large and medium-sized stage. While there is a performance on one stage, the other is being prepared for the next performance. There is no time for slackness during the setting up, and the 15 artists change over smoothly. Each performance lasted 20-30 minutes. Only Yasuyuki Okamura, who danced superbly in his suit, and YMO, who played a largely different sound to the original 30 years ago, probably took a little more time. Spectators laid down sheets as they pleased and enjoyed their favourite artists, and walked around the "street stall village" and merchandise shops at their own discretion. On the opposite side, around the multipurpose coliseum from which you can see a tropical plant garden, there are trees and benches so you can escape from the sun.

When you face the stage your whole body can be immersed in music. Because it is not enclosed like the Budokan or Tokyo Dome, the music spreads out and disappears freely, going out beyond the street stall village and trees and gently reaching the grassy fields. There the buzzing of cicadas and the music, and the conversations and laughter of the people next to me vibrate the air and blend together. There are also times when the smell of food from the stalls or nearby people's hands wafts over.

Of course dancing to your heart's content while listening to music of your favorite artist is fun, so is moving away from the stage and dozing off with other artists' music in the background. Even if you aren't particularly aware of it, here there is always music. It isn't bringing music to a place where music isn't needed, it is good that there is music, and it is the freedom of understanding, somewhere, the privilege of having that for those few hours. For that reason there is a sense of unobstructed spaciousness.

Because so many people gather outside on a midsummer's day, at an outdoor concert you can feel the sensation of the music's form and experience music, space and time. The music, during this time, doesn't come out from the stage public announcement system, it fills that time and space.

Jun-ichi Konuma
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University

Born in Tokyo in 1959. Graduated from French Literature Department, Faculty of Letters, Gakushuin University. Music critic and specialist in music culture theory.
Was awarded the 8th Idemitsu Music Award (Academic and Research division).
His main publications include, Toru Takemitsu: Sound, Words and Images [Takemitsu Toru Oto Kotoba Imeji], Spellbound Body: The Journeying Musician Colin McPhee and His Times [Miserareta Shintai Tabi Suru Ongakuka Korin Makufui To Sono Jidai], Minimal Music [Minimaru Myujiku], (Seidosha); Bach's 'Goldberg Variations': World, Music and Media [Baha Gorutoberuku Hensokyoku Sekai Ongaku Medeia], (Misuzu Shobo).
New publication, Orchestra Again [Ookesutora Sainyuumon](Heibonsha Shinsho).