Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience or gives pleasure and delight. It can be an idea or a task, but is more likely to be one of the activities or events that have developed over thousands of years specifically for the purpose of keeping an audience’s attention.Although people’s attention is held by different things, because individuals have different preferences in entertainment, most forms are recognisable and familiar. Storytelling, music, drama, dance, and different kinds of performance exist in all cultures, were supported in royal courts, developed into sophisticated forms and over time became available to all citizens.
Music is a supporting component of many kinds of entertainment and most kinds of performance. For example, it is used to enhance storytelling, it is indispensable in dance and opera, and is usually incorporated into dramatic film or theatre productions.
Music is also a universal and popular type of entertainment on its own, constituting an entire performance. Depending on the rhythm, instrument, performance and style, music is divided into many genres, such as classical, jazz, folk, rock, pop music or traditional. Since the 20th century, performed music, once available only to those who could pay for the performers, has been available cheaply to individuals by the entertainment industry, which broadcasts it or pre-records it for sale.
The wide variety of musical performances, whether or not they are artificially amplified, all provide entertainment irrespective of whether the performance is from soloists, choral or orchestral groups, or ensemble. Live performances use specialised venues, which might be small or large; indoors or outdoors; free or expensive. The audiences have different expectations of the performers as well as of their own role in the performance. For example, some audiences expect to listen silently and are entertained by the excellence of the music, its rendition or its interpretation. Other audiences of live performances are entertained by the ambience and the chance to participate. Even more listeners are entertained by pre-recorded music and listen privately.
The instruments used in musical entertainment are either solely the human voice or solely instrumental or some combination of the two. Whether the performance is given by vocalists or instrumentalists, the performers may be soloists or part of a small or large group, in turn entertaining an audience that might be individual, passing by, small or large. Singing is generally accompanied by instruments although some forms, notably a cappella and overtone singing, are unaccompanied. Modern concerts often use various special effects and other theatrics to accompany performances of singing and dancing.
The many forms of dance provide entertainment for all age groups and cultures. Dance can be serious in tone, such as when it is used to express a culture’s history or important stories; it may be provocative; or it may put in the service of comedy. Since it combines many forms of entertainment – music, movement, storytelling, theatre – it provides a good example of the various ways that these forms can be combined to create entertainment for different purposes and audiences.