A recent study done by Chia-Jung Tsay, a Harvard graduate and professor in London, has unveiled some interesting findings that sheds light on how we perceive music as humans. In her study, she showed that humans prioritize visual cues over auditory cues when determining the quality of music. What this means is that when we judge the quality of music at a concert or festival, the human brain will use the visual stimulation as a greater factor instead of the actual music itself. When speaking to the Harvard Gazette, Chia-Jung Tsay stated:

“What this suggests is that there may be a way that visual information is prioritized over information from other modalities. In this case, it suggests that the visual trumps the audio, even in a setting where audio information should matter much more.”

Although this is not set in stone, it does prove that a visual display accompanying a musical performance directly relates to the fans’ perception of the “quality” of the performance. With this in mind, I can’t help but notice the correlation between super star DJ’s and their dazzling main stage performances and why some fans see them as musical pieces of art. The sense of superstardom, or musical success, is determined on the artists body language and the overall magnitude of the visual performance. This does not ring true for all genres of music, but especially in a festival driven genre such as EDM, it does not seem far fetched to notice the similarities.

With promotion companies spending millions of dollars on stages and lighting, it seems someone has taken notice. An effort to build bigger and better stages each year, actually improves the fans’ perception of both the music, and in turn, the festival itself. As sad as it sounds, more crazy lights and CO2 could be the key to convincing massive crowds that your music is actually beautiful.

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