38 votes
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Why are conductors required at orchestra performances?

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 ...
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25 votes

Why are conductors' movements shifted with respect to the musicians?

The idea of conducting is to physically demonstrate how you want them to perform. As such, there necessarily will need to be some "processing time" built in for the musicians understand the ...
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24 votes

What are the baton movements for different time signatures?

What you're looking for are what we call conducting patterns. A quick Internet search for that term should provide you with everything that you're looking for (and will supplement any remaining ...
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  • 78.7k
21 votes

Why are conductors required at orchestra performances?

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 ...
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18 votes
Accepted

What greater possibilities allows playing late from the conductor

There's a funny thing that happens when you look at more and more advanced orchestras. Across the board, the level of musicianship and technical skill increases among the players in the ensemble. This ...
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  • 34.4k
18 votes

Why are conductors' movements shifted with respect to the musicians?

There are many different conducting styles. A marching band conductor, for example, will tend to use very precise movements, in time with the ensemble, because that's the primary role — to keep time. ...
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  • 55.2k
13 votes

How does an orchestra hold groove?

I'm not sure why you are asking this since you're aware that there is a conductor! The name for musicians who don't watch the conductor to make sure they are following the beat (as well as dynamics ...
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8 votes

Why are conductors required at orchestra performances?

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 ...
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  • 1,627
8 votes

What makes a great conductor?

The conductor's job is to analyze the piece and figure out, to a very minute detail, how it should be played. He then has to communicate that in rehearsal through words and physicality (conducting ...
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8 votes
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Why does the conductor also play harpsichord when there is already a harpsichordist in the orchestra?

If you look at the scores for Corelli's concerti grossi, for example, you can see that the concertino (soloists) and the tutti (full orchestra) each have their own basso continuo parts. These continuo ...
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  • 2,287
8 votes

Why oughtn't conductors use and mirror both hands to indicate the beat?

Mirroring hands when conducting is, in my view, almost totally pointless. If your right hand is doing the job of indicating the beat how does doing the same thing with the left hand help at all? ...
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8 votes
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Do conductors scores ("partitur") ever differ greatly from the full score?

There are often various scores for a piece that conductors can choose from: a full score with a system for each instrument, even it they are not playing. Generally several similar instruments (e.g ...
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8 votes

Why are conductors' movements shifted with respect to the musicians?

It is perfectly possible to conduct (and for the orchestra to follow) 'dead on the beat'. In the commercial music world this is the norm. Taken to extremes it's a click track. One thing to ...
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7 votes

What is a typical career path to become a conductor?

First what makes a good conductor. Being a good conductor requires three things: a broad knowledge of music in general and music theory in particular, the mastering of musicality and, last but not ...
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  • 469
7 votes

What are the baton movements for different time signatures?

Conducting can go up to 7's, 9's and even 11's. It can sometimes fall to a conductor to conduct in more than one time signature at the same time. So it can be necessary for a conductor to get creative....
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  • 2,317
7 votes
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How to conduct a fermata over a rest?

Wrap up the previous note. Do nothing for a suitable amount of time (but don't drop your hands. Keep the orchestra's attention). Give an upbeat into the continuation.
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6 votes

Why are conductors required at orchestra performances?

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 ...
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6 votes
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Has there ever been an orchestra without a conductor?

It looks like yes, regardless of your answer to my comment. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conductorless_orchestra The East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO) was envisioned in 2001, when a group ...
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6 votes

Why do conductors not need research-level musicology to succeed?

If I were feeling inflammatory, I'd say that is because research level musicology has very little to do with actually playing music, and leave it there. But given that's not exactly fair, let's flesh ...
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  • 9,479
6 votes

Aren't conductors like Valery Gergiev hard for orchestras to follow?

Gergiev is my favorite conductor. I don't know if I have an adequate answer for you, but I can share some thoughts: As Todd's comment suggests, conducting is a very small part of the conductor's job. ...
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5 votes
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circles and other gestures not really keeping time

In addition to having eyes to see the conductor, most professional orchestra players have ears with which to hear one another, and, being able to win an orchestra audition, tend to be excellent ...
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  • 34.4k
5 votes

How to direct alternating measures of 6/8 and 5/8 time signatures?

Study the 5/8 measure and determine the subdivision. Commonly, it'll be 2+3/8 or 3+2/8. For conducting, you'll treat 5/8 like a 6/8 pattern, but dropping the appropriate 8th notes to match the ...
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5 votes

Why are conductors required at orchestra performances?

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 ...
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  • 1,713
5 votes

Importance of an orchestral conductor and their baton-work as timekeeper?

It seems to be presumed that once a tempo has been established, then that tempo continues. That is not the case in a lot of orchestral music. So a metronome just wouldn't hack it. One of the conductor'...
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5 votes

How does one "practice conducting"?

As you probably already know, conducting involves a lot of different skills. An old axiom used to say: "Seeing with the ear, and hearing with the eye." To accomplish this you need to master music ...
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  • 907
5 votes
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How does one "practice conducting"?

Probably the hardest job in an orchestra, but made to look so simple on the night!It's a bit ( lot) more than waving a stick around - when one conductor lost his baton, just about every violinist ...
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  • 173k
5 votes

How does an orchestra hold groove?

There were grooves long before there were computers! The REALLY clever thing a good conductor does is 'rubato'. The tempo ebbs and flows, but there IS a constant, metronomic underlying beat. A ...
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5 votes

Do conductors scores ("partitur") ever differ greatly from the full score?

In such cases (or any others too), do conductors highly customise the full score? Conductors do not typically produce the score. This is done by the publisher, or, for a new work, the composer or a ...
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  • 13.6k
5 votes

Why do famous conductors rarely conduct ballet?

TL;DR: Just skim the headings. The rest is sourced quotations supporting each point. Is the premise valid? Yes Few famous conductors have worked in dance with any frequency over the last half ...
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