Why musicians always wear black as they perform?

You can always see sequin-coated outfits when you go to a pop concert. However, when you go to a classical concert, it is no surprise to look at all musicians wearing all black from head to toe, or maybe a dash of white. This article will explain why?

In the 18th century, orchestras usually played in ecclesiastical or noble households. They would usually wear uniforms just like other household servants. Guess what the color of the uniform is? It’s a black-tie tuxedo.

The fact that in the 18th century only men are allowed to play in the orchestra makes it clear why their uniforms had to be black. So when the women later came in to join the professional orchestra which was during the mid-20th century, they dressed up following the color of the suits that men wear. They would also wear some white color on the upper or lower part.

As you know, black and white dresses during the 18th century are considered classic and smart but might be a dull thing to wear during this present time especially on stage. But a critical effect of the black and white colored uniforms is that no unnecessary attentions can be drawn to musicians. The compelling argument on this is that audiences wanted to pay attention to music and not the musicians that is why they wear black and white colored dresses and suits. It was believed by many musicians and music lovers that music should not be interrupted by any distraction, not even the performers themselves.

According to Quora, wearing black symbolizes merely the orchestra’s group effort. Another stark reason for that is to pave the way to the limelight for soloists. If there are those who are permitted not to wear black, they are no other than the soloists in the concert. They added that the soloist is a beautiful beacon that audiences should be looking at because they are the special guest of that particular performance.

Because of this argument, several questions arise. Questions such as, why not hide the musicians out of sight entirely, since the concentration of the audience is about the music, not the performers? Or just like some musical theatre production or opera where they put their orchestra in the band pit. No offense to orchestral players, we’re just making a point here.

Another argument came up from Software Promotions stating that audiences attending classical music concerts find musicians working their instruments skilfully on stage enjoyable to watch. They said it’s like going to a restaurant and be impressed as the skillful chef cooks your food right in front of you. You would surely appreciate what you have paid for.

So if orchestral performers are not a distraction but instead make their skillful playing enjoyable to watch, shouldn’t they be given freedom to express their art by allowing them to wear clothes that make them feel most comfortable and confident? Is the wearing of black attire during concert an out-dated tradition?

Perhaps it’s not all about the uniformity, distraction or highlighting a soloist. Maybe it’s just as simple as what cellist Naoya Kanai said on his comment in Quora…