Democracy, Live and in Concert

At Saturday’s concert by the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, the program offered a menu for the second half:  The audience was to vote on whether it wished to hear the Tschaikovsky Serenade, the Dvorák Serenade, or Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet (arranged for small string orchestra). After the intermission, the conductor briefly discussed each composer and described each piece, then asked for a show of hands.  

I was worried: What if a plurality favored the Schubert (my choice), but the Dvorák had been a close second, with a majority of people vehemently against hearing the Schubert performed by anything other than four string instruments? I don’t imagine that second-preference voting would have been possible (fancier voting schemes regrettably generate larger transactions costs), so we would have listened to the Schubert even though more people would have been better off with the Dvorák.  

Fortunately, a small majority of the audience shared my preference and we achieved the first-best (and heard a wonderful performance)!


the orchestra should have played all 3 pieces at the same time, with the number of instruments allocated to each piece being proportional to the number of votes...that would be democracy...

robin marlowe

Good question. When does and does not democracy work? In science, it was a mistake to ask because, in order to succeed, the scientist who has the original idea is the only one in the position to work it out. What about teaching math? It seems to me that once the kid can add, subtract, divide and multiply- then she/he would be in an easier position to wonder how and why? So first things first. I was listening to Cain pontificate last night and was reminded and thinking back to Clinton. That era seemed so long ago. Americans (including the Clintons) have gotten smarter about politics. So it will be harder for anyone to try to pull the wool over our eyes. I mean really, does he expect us to believe that all four women are liars or that all four women are so emotional as not to be able to judge a spade, a spade.

robin marlowe

Note- I do apologize to anyone who might have incorrectly assumed that my usage of the term "spade" referred to anthing else but a tool or card. I was not aware til informed by my spouse of a derogatory usage of the term. The issue has nothing to do with race.

Dale Sheldon-Hess

How would the conductor have known if someone had voted for two pieces?

That wouldn't be cheating, it would be approval voting. And unlike other alternate voting methods, there isn't a higher transaction cost, even though it goes a long way (although not quite all the way) towards eliminating the kind of second-preference fears you mentioned.


As a side issue: What lead Mr. Hamermesh to include *half* the diacritical marks in Dvorak's name and not the other half?