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Encyclopedia > Conducting
A conductor conducting at a ceremony
A conductor conducting at a ceremony
A conductor's score and batons

Conducting is the act of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. Orchestras, choirs, concert bands and other musical ensembles often have conductors. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1728x1152, 279 KB) Summary A photograph of Conductor John T. Madden leading the Michigan State University Wind Symphony with various MSU faculty members in the background. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1728x1152, 279 KB) Summary A photograph of Conductor John T. Madden leading the Michigan State University Wind Symphony with various MSU faculty members in the background. ... Download high resolution version (1557x927, 153 KB) File links The following pages link to this file: Sheet music Conducting Categories: GFDL images ... Download high resolution version (1557x927, 153 KB) File links The following pages link to this file: Sheet music Conducting Categories: GFDL images ... // Music is an art form consisting of sound and silence expressed through time. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... A concert band, also called wind band, symphonic band, symphonic winds, wind orchestra, wind symphony, or wind ensemble, is a performing ensemble consisting of several members of the woodwind instrument family, brass instrument family and percussion instrument family. ... A musical ensemble is a group of two or more musicians who gather to perform music. ...

Contents

Nomenclature

The principal conductor of an orchestra or opera company is sometimes known as a music director or chief conductor (as with the Berlin Philharmonic), or by the German word kapellmeister. Conductors of choirs are sometimes called choral directors or chorus masters (particularly for choirs associated with a particular orchestra), and conductors of military bands and other bands may hold the title of bandmaster. Respected senior conductors are sometimes referred to by the Italian word maestro (teacher). This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy. ... The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the worlds leading orchestras. ... German (called Deutsch in German; in German the term germanisch is equivalent to English Germanic), is a member of the western group of Germanic languages and is one of the worlds major languages. ... A Kapellmeister is nowadays the director or conductor of an orchestra or choir. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Military Band marching A military band is a group of soldiers assigned to musical duties. ... Look up Maestro, maestro in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


History of conducting

An early form of conducting is cheironomy, the use of hand gestures to indicate melodic shape. This has been practiced at least as far back as the Middle Ages. In the Christian church, the person giving these symbols held a staff to signify his role, and it seems that as music became more rhythmically involved, the staff was moved up and down to indicate the beat, acting as an early form of baton. Cheironomy is the use of hand signals to direct vocal music performance. ... Look up melody in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch of Constantinople Christianity Portal This box:      A Christian () is a person who... For other uses of the word staff, see staff. ... Rhythm (Greek = flow, or in Modern Greek, style) is the variation of the length and accentuation of a series of sounds or other events. ... A modern wooden conducting baton Harvard University student Kenton Hetrick with the worlds largest baton A baton is a stick that is used by conductors primarily to indicate the musical beat of a piece through horizontal and vertical movements. ...


In the 17th century, other devices to indicate the passing of time came into use. Rolled up sheets of paper, smaller sticks and unadorned hands are all shown in pictures from this period. The large staff was responsible for the death of Jean-Baptiste Lully—he stabbed his foot with the staff while conducting a Te Deum for the king's recovery from illness and the wound became gangrenous. He died two months later, after refusing surgery to remove the infected toe. (16th century - 17th century - 18th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. ... Jean-Baptiste de Lully, originally Giovanni Battista di Lulli (November 28, 1632 – March 22, 1687), was an Italian-born French composer, who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France. ... Gangrene is necrosis and subsequent decay of body tissues caused by infection or thrombosis or lack of blood flow. ...


In instrumental music, a single performer usually acted as the conductor. This could be the principal violinist, who used his bow as a baton, or a lutenist who would move the neck of his instrument in time with the beat. It was common to conduct from the harpsichord in pieces that had a basso continuo part. In opera performances, there were sometimes two conductors - the keyboard was in charge of the singers, and the principal violinist was in charge of the orchestra. The violin is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. ... A cello bow In music, a bow is a device pulled across the strings of a string instrument in order to make them vibrate and emit sound. ... A medieval era lute. ... Harpsichord in the Flemish style A harpsichord is any of a family of European keyboard instruments, including the large instrument currently called a harpsichord, but also the smaller virginals, the muselar virginals and the spinet. ... Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervallic content (the intervals which make up a sonority), later chords, in relation to a bass note. ...

A modern wooden conducting baton

By the early 19th century, it became the norm to have one person entirely dedicated to conducting, not performing as well. The orchestra expanded in size during this period, and the baton became more common, as it was easier to see than bare hands or rolled-up paper. Among the earliest notable conductors were Louis Spohr, Carl Maria von Weber, Louis-Antoine Jullien and Felix Mendelssohn, all of whom were also composers. Mendelssohn is known to have been the first conductor to utilize a wooden baton to keep time, an innovation still in use today. Hans von Bülow is commonly considered the first professional full-time (non-composer) conductor. A wooden conducting baton. ... A wooden conducting baton. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Self-portrait of Spohr as a young man. ... Carl Maria von Weber Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst, Freiherr von Weber (November 18, 1786 in Eutin, Holstein – June 5, 1826 in London, England) was a German composer, conductor, pianist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school. ... Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, born and known generally as Felix Mendelssohn (February 3, 1809 – November 4, 1847) was a German composer and conductor of the early Romantic period. ... Hans von Bülow. ...


Hector Berlioz and Richard Wagner were also conductors, and they wrote two of the earliest essays dedicated to the subject. Berlioz is considered the first virtuoso conductor. Wagner was largely responsible for shaping the conductor's role as one who imposes his own view of a piece onto the performance rather than one who is simply responsible for ensuring entries are made at the right time and that there is a unified beat. Portrait of Berlioz by Signol, 1832 Louis Hector Berlioz (December 11, 1803 – March 8, 1869) was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie Fantastique (first performed in 1830) and Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem). ... Richard Wagner Wilhelm Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883) was a German composer, conductor, music theorist, and essayist, primarily known for his operas (or music dramas as he later came to call them). ...


In late 20th century, a New York composer Walter Thompson created a live composing sign language known as soundpainting to be used in the medium of structured improvisation. At present the language includes over 750 gestures used as communication tool by the composer/conductor to indicate the type of improvisation desired of the performers. In addition, a system developed by Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris, called conduction is another prominent movement in the field. The latter is considered more effective to dictate relationships and transformations, giving the improvisers more control over the content they contribute. Walter Palmer Thompson (April 3, 1889 – March 30, 1970) was a Canadian academic and former President of the University of Saskatchewan. ... Soundpainting is the live composing sign language created by New York composer Walter Thompson for musicians, dancers, actors, poets, and visual artists working in the medium of structured improvisation. ... Lawrence D. Butch Morris is an American jazz cornetist, composer and conductor, born February 10, 1947 in Long Beach, California. ... Conduction has several meanings. ...


Conducting technique

Conducting is a means of communicating real-time information to performers. There are no absolute rules on how to conduct correctly, and a wide variety of different conducting styles exist. The primary responsibilities of the conductor are to set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen and shape the sound of the ensemble.


An understanding of the basic elements of musical expression (tempo, dynamics, articulation) and the ability to communicate them effectively to an ensemble is necessary in order to conduct. The ability to communicate nuances of phrasing and expression through gesture is also beneficial. Conducting gestures may be choreographed beforehand by the conductor while studying the score, or may be spontaneous. The first two measures of Mozarts Sonata XI, which indicates the tempo as Andante grazioso and a modern editors metronome marking: = 120. “Andante” redirects here. ... In music, dynamics normally refers to the softness or loudness of a sound or note, but also to every aspect of the execution of a given piece, either stylistic (staccato, legato etc. ... In music an articulation is a sign, direction, or performance technique which indicates or affects the transition or continuity between notes or sounds. ... Sheet music is written representation of music. ...


A distinction is sometimes made between orchestral conducting and choral conducting. Stereotypically, orchestral conductors use a baton more often than choral conductors (though not always: this is up to the conductor's personal preference), and favor the use of beat patterns over gestural conducting, which concentrates more on musical expression and shape. For the 1996 Blur single, see Stereotypes (song). ... A modern wooden conducting baton Harvard University student Kenton Hetrick with the worlds largest baton A baton is a stick that is used by conductors primarily to indicate the musical beat of a piece through horizontal and vertical movements. ... Diagram of beat frequency In acoustics, a beat is an interference between two sounds of slightly different frequencies, perceived as periodic variations in volume whose rate is the difference between the two frequencies. ...


The grip of the baton is a contentious issue that varies from conductor to conductor. Despite a wide variety of styles, a number of standard conventions have developed. A modern wooden conducting baton Harvard University student Kenton Hetrick with the worlds largest baton A baton is a stick that is used by conductors primarily to indicate the musical beat of a piece through horizontal and vertical movements. ...


Beat and tempo

2/4, 2/2, or fast 6/8 time
3/4 or 3/8 time
4/4 time
slow 6/8 time

The beat of the music is typically indicated with the conductor's right hand, with or without a baton. The hand traces a shape in the air in every bar (measure) depending on the time signature, indicating each beat with a change from downward to upward motion. The images show the most common beat patterns, as seen from the conductor's point of view. Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... putang ina. ... A modern wooden conducting baton Harvard University student Kenton Hetrick with the worlds largest baton A baton is a stick that is used by conductors primarily to indicate the musical beat of a piece through horizontal and vertical movements. ... In musical notation, a bar or measure is a segment of time defined as a given number of beats of a given duration. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


The downbeat indicates the first beat of the bar, and the upbeat indicates the last beat of the bar. The instant at which the beat occurs is called the ictus (plural: ictus or ictuses), and is usually indicated by a sudden (though not necessarily large) click of the wrist or change in baton direction. In some instances, "ictus" is also used to refer to a horizontal plane in which all the ictuses are physically located, such as the top of a music stand where a baton is tapped at each ictus. The gesture leading up to the ictus is called the "preparation", and the continuous flow of steady beats is called the "takt". Downbeat can have several meanings: // In Music Theory In music performance and music theory, the downbeat is also the first beat of a measure in music. ... Anacrusis in poetry is the lead-in syllables that precede the first full measure, while, similarly, in music, it is the note or notes (even a phrase) which precede the first downbeat in a group. ... A modern wooden conducting baton Harvard University student Kenton Hetrick with the worlds largest baton A baton is a stick that is used by conductors primarily to indicate the musical beat of a piece through horizontal and vertical movements. ... A violoncello player reading from a foldable music stand A music stand is a device that holds sheet music in a position that allows the performer to read it while performing. ...


If the tempo is slow or slowing, or if the time signature is compound, a conductor will sometimes indicate "subdivisions" of the beats. The conductor can do so by adding each beat with 'and', where each is a smaller movement but in the same direction of the beat that it belongs to. The first two measures of Mozarts Sonata XI, which indicates the tempo as Andante grazioso and a modern editors metronome marking: = 120. “Andante” redirects here. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... In music, compound metre or compound time is a time signature or meter in which each beat (or rather, portion, 1/2 or 1/3 of a measure) is divided into three parts, as opposed to two which is simple meter. ...


Changes to the tempo are indicated by changing the speed of the beat. To carry out and to control a rallentando, a conductor may introduce beat subdivisions. This article is about tempo in music. ...


Some conductors use both hands to indicate the beat, with the left hand mirroring the right, though others view this as redundant and therefore to be avoided. This is also seen as improper practice by many. The second hand should be used for cueing the entrances of individual players or sections, and to aid the indication of dynamics, phrasing, expression, and other musical elements.


Dynamics

Dynamics are indicated in various ways. The dynamic may be communicated by the size of the conducting movements: the larger the shape, the louder the sound. Changes in dynamic may be signaled with the hand that is not being used to indicate the beat: an upward motion (usually palm-up) indicates a crescendo; a downward motion (usually palm-down) indicates a diminuendo. Changing the size of conducting movements may result in unintended tempo changes because larger movements require the beat to traverse more space in the same amount of time. In music, dynamics normally refers to the softness or loudness of a sound or note, but also to every aspect of the execution of a given piece, either stylistic (staccato, legato etc. ... Crescendo may mean: In musical notation, crescendo refers to a passage of music during which the volume gradually increases. ... In music, dynamics normally refers to the softness or loudness of a sound or note, but also to every aspect of the execution of a given piece, either stylistic (staccato, legato etc. ...


Dynamics can be fine-tuned using various gestures: showing one's palm to the performers or leaning away from them may demonstrate a decrease in volume. In order to adjust the overall balance of the various instruments or voices, these signals can be combined directed towards a particular section or performer.


Cueing

The indication of "entries", when a new instrument or section begins playing, is called "cueing". A cue must forecast with certainty the exact moment of the coming ictus, so that all the players or singers can play simultaneously. Cueing is achieved by engaging the players before their entry and executing a clear preparation, often directed towards the specific players, all while maintaining eye contact. An inhale, which may or may not be a semi-audible "sniff" from the conductor, is a common element in the cueing technique of many conductors. Mere eye contact or a look in the general direction of the players may be sufficient in many instances, as when more than one section of the ensemble enters at the same time. Larger musical events may warrant the use of a larger or more emphatic cue designed to generate emotion and energy.


Other musical elements

Articulation may be indicated by the character of the ictus, ranging from short and sharp for staccato, to long and fluid for legato. Many conductors change the tension of the hands: strained muscles and rigid movements may correspond to marcato, while relaxed hands and soft movements may correspond to legato or espressivo. In musical notation, the Italian word staccato (literally detached, plural staccatos or staccati) indicates that notes are sounded in a detached and distinctly separate manner, with silence making up the latter part of the time allocated to each note. ... In musical notation legato indicates that musical notes are played smoothly. ...


Phrasing may be indicated by wide overhead arcs or by a smooth hand motion either forwards or side-to-side. A held note is often indicated by a hand held flat with palm up. The end of a note, called a "cutoff" or "release", may be indicated by a circular motion, the closing of the palm, or the pinching of finger and thumb. A release is usually preceded by a preparation and concluded with a complete stoppage of motion.


Conductors aim to maintain eye contact with the ensemble as much as possible, encouraging eye contact in return and increasing the general dialogue between players/singers and conductor. Facial expressions may also be important to demonstrate the character of the music or to encourage the players.


In others words they do shit all.


Further reading

  • Norman Lebrecht, The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power, 2nd Rev&Up edition, Citadel Press 2001
  • Brock McElheran, "Conducting Technique"
  • Frederik Prausnitz, "Score and Podium"
  • Max Rudolf, "The Grammar Of Conducting"
  • Larry G. Curtis and David L. Kuehn, "A Guide To Successful Instrumental Conducting."
  • Michel Faul, "Louis Jullien, musique, spectacle et folie au XIXe siècle" (editions Atlantica, France 2006).Dedicated site : http://louisjullien.site.voila.fr

See also

This is a list of conductors of music in the broad genre of classical music, including symphonies, operas, chamber music, and choral music, including music by modern composers considered within this genre. ... Cheironomy is the use of hand signals to direct vocal music performance. ...

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Conducting
  • Introduction to Conducting
  • What to Think About When You Conduct (an orchestra)
  • [1] Australian conductor Benjamin Northey on the experience of conducting. (Arts Hub Australia, May 29 2007)

Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Wikiquote is a sister project of Wikipedia, using the same MediaWiki software. ...


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