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Why is it that we play after the beat? (a) We're all afraid of coming in alone (b) The conductor is not asserting him/herself (c) The conductor didn't give a great upbeat


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You get the tempo from the upbeat. And they actually ARE watching this, unless the conductor is so bad that they've tacitly decided just to treat him as a start signal. It can be disconcerting, as a conductor, to give a snappy upbeat only to get a response in that tempo, but delayed. I have a little experience of this, I'd love to have more!


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There is a story of noted British percussionist Gary Kettel being asked by a conductor how to get more tone out of a bass drum. He scratched his head and finally said: "Well, maestro, you could tell 'im to 'it it 'arder".


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You need to measure the primary frequency your drum puts out, convert that to a wavelength, then set your drums that distance or half that distance from a sound-reflective back wall. Probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-20 or 5-10 feet for the half distance. A fourth of that distance (which is unfortunately a more likely location) will actually ...


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Outside of unisono passages where everybody plays the same (apart from the octave choice and possibly some fifth thrown in for tecture), violins and violas are almost never playing the same: it would be wasting the distinctive texture difference between those two instruments. For fast passages, violas do not really provide the same kind of response and/or ...


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One technique my college band used, since we were using electronics anyway, was to mike the drum and play it with an extremely soft beater so as to minimize the ictus. Then, with amplification, you can adjust the volume up very high so that the resonant boom caries well.


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A standard string section of an orchestra will have: 1st Violins 2nd Violins Violas Cellos Basses One very typical way to think of this is by way of comparison to a four-part SATB choir (sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses). In this scheme, the first violins will have the melody line, like the soprano part of a choir. The cellos will have the bass line ...


3

A conductor provides different things at different levels of musician skill. At the lowest level of skill, they keeps time and tempo for you. As you learn to keep your own time and tempo, they begins to provide dynamics. As you learn dynamics, they provides key cues. It is not uncommon to have a long pause followed by a sharp note in many instruments at ...


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To answer your second question, why do orchestra usually perform with sheet music when soloists don't: Typically, a soloist would spend most of their working life travelling, repeating the same pieces in different cities. They might memorise 5–10 hours of music each year (two or three solo recital programs and a small number of concertos), and would ...


1

A conductor is especially needed when there is a large group of musicians and the music being performed is such that the tempo is constantly changing -- gradually speeding up, slowing down, or radically changing speeds suddenly. And it is the conductor's job to choose how much to speed up or slow down, and when. The same goes for the dynamics -- how loud or ...


4

Lots of the points have already been made, but regarding the need for the score I'll give an example which illustrates the point. I play in a guitar orchestra of 25 - in our last rehearsal our conductor added no less than 16 new instructions to the score for a piece that is only a few minutes long - including what tone to play (dolce, ponticello, ...


3

Conductors are not actually required; there is a long history of conductorless orchestras. However, having a conductor is certainly useful for the reasons stated in the other answers. It's also worth noting that the conductor often has a leadership and training role in the orchestra -- so it's a bit like asking "why does a basketball team need a coach?" As ...


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Let me try to add to the excellent answers. In general: Your question is legit, but it can be readily explained with scale. Compare: "me and my brother built a doghouse yesterday - why building a skyscraper needs an architect and blueprints?" :) More in detail: The musicians are presumably professionals who have had much practice at this point, so why ...


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In orchestral music, tempo often varies a lot, and it's much harder for a large group of players to speed up / slow down together than it is for them to just keep going at the same speed, so a single source of 'pulse' is useful here. Édouard mentioned the size of the orchestra making it hard to hear - one reason is that an orchestra pit can be 20 metres or ...


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Édouard gave the politically correct answer, but things are a bit more complicated. TL;DR During concerts the conductor does mostly more than necessary, most of his/her work takes place during rehearsals. Turns out, experienced orchestras (not an orchestra of experienced musicians, but an orchestra that has lots of experience playing as that same ...


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There are several reason. The most basic would be “so that they could play together”. A symphonic orchestra is much bigger than a band, and being in perfect sync with the player at the other side of the stage or pit can be hard without visual cues. In smaller ensemble, such as a quartet, quintet, or even chamber orchestra, there might be no conductor or the ...


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As the poster above me mentioned, Rimsky-Korsakov's book is a great resource, along with Kent Kennan's Technique of Orchestration, and Samuel Adler. There's many orchestration books out there, and be sure to do some research on voice leading and counterpoint. Watch some videos showcasing each instruments' ranges, timbres, and qualities. Also, get yourself ...


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You don't need to play an instrument in order to write for it. After all, the vast majority of people don't play every orchestral instrument (at least not well; music ed majors typically have to learn a bit of everything but they're not expected to achieve anything close to mastery). It's just important that you know how every instrument works so that you ...



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