On lip-synching the National Anthem
Many complaints have arisen about Beyoncé’s apparent lip-synching of the National Anthem at Obama’s second inauguration
I have to agree with the critics here – given the choice between hearing the National Anthem sung live (but poorly) and having an outstanding recorded performance, I would prefer to see the live performance. For a formal ceremony such as an inauguration, seeing a live performance seems to be appropriate.
I am reminded of so many things here – of a biography I read long ago of Pierre Boulez (I believe it was Joan Peyser’s), which described how he once received a gift of a phonograph, and ended up discarding it, because he could not stand hearing a piece of music played the same way time after time. I am reminded of the difference between attending a museum exhibit and reading a catalogue or of the pleasures of reading a facsimile edition of a great book. I am reminded of the recent filmed production of the Boublil-Schönberg Les Misérables which has as its “hook” the idea that it recorded voices live (although orchestra was added in post-production) rather than using lip-synching as do most musical films. (What is better: a recording of a live performance or a recording of a recorded performance?)
When I speak in public, I usually prefer not to use a microphone, and I sometimes use the old saw that speaking through a microphone is like kissing through a screen door. There is nothing that can compare with the immediacy of direct speech. But to take that example more seriously – what would one prefer: an imperfect real kiss or a perfect pre-recorded video of a kiss?