38

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 ...


24

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 questions you may have left over). There are different philosophies about conducting patterns, but they're really all variations on the same theme; I give two ...


20

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 ...


18

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 has a side effect in that more advanced orchestras need less and less information1 from the conductor in order to play together, in part because section ...


17

Traditionally, conductors of choirs will not conduct using a baton unless they are leading a full orchestra along with their choir, whereas conductors of orchestras and other large ensembles will use a baton. Using a baton is an additional skill; in programs of conducting pedagogy I've seen, all students will work with a baton in their first few semesters "...


13

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 and tonality) is "fired." Now, there are large ensembles which run sans conductor. A Far Cry is my favorite local (Boston MA) example. They work first by ...


8

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 patterns and gestures). The difficulty is in coming up with a good analysis, having a sharp ear to hear what the ensemble is doing, and being able to communicate ...


8

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 orchestra)...


8

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 parts mostly coincide, but sometimes differ. The reason for this arrangement is not known for certain, but it could have something to do with fullness of sound ...


8

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? It doesn't; most of the time it adds nothing. What it could be doing is indicating other things - cueing as has been mentioned - which then adds to the control ...


8

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 two flutes) will be combined on one system. Normally transposing instruments are transposed in the score, but sometimes they are in concert pitch in the score (...


7

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 the least, very strong management and organisational skills. I believe point 1 is obvious. A conductor must be able to look at the score and make it sound in his ...


7

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 the question out a bit more. Start with your first pair of assumptions. I'm not going to strongly disagree with 1, because I don't think it's highly relevant ...


7

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.


6

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 ...


6

There aren't any specific rules, conductors don't need to use a baton or in fact anything, but it makes it easier for the orchestra to see the conductor's movements. Especially for those musicians further back, it just gives a nice specific timing point.


6

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 of young string players sought to form a conductorless chamber orchestra, based upon democratic principles. The members are soloists, orchestral musicians, and ...


6

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. The majority of the job is rehearsal and creating a common interpretation of the music that's being played. In this sense, whether or not a conductor is hard ...


6

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. There are, however, a number of set rules: The first beat is always the baton (or hand) moving down from its highest position (also known as the down beat). ...


5

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 musicians with a great sense of rhythm and time. To put it simply, if the orchestra is not in need of timing information from the conductor, the conductor is wasting ...


5

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 ...


5

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 subdivision.


5

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's jobs is to keep up to a hundred players in time with each other, and often spread out, at that, so just listening to each other for tempo isn't the best. ...


5

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 theory concepts like transposition and reading tenor and alto clefs. I would personally say the most important skill is sight reading. You cans start with Haydn ...


5

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 there offered him theirs! You need to be conversant with each and every instrument and their foibles. You need to be able to sight-read in the many transposing ...


5

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 second-class conductor keeps changing tempo, a first-class one is aware of the pulse and just BENDS it, weaves around it... I'm not saying there aren't explicit ...


5

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 professional copyist. As noted in the other answer, the conductor typically makes notes in the score, but it's not usually possible to modify the grouping of ...


5

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 century. [1] Other quotations below support this as well. Limited control The conductor is often secondary to the choreographer and there may be multiple conductors ...


4

The key qualification is a very analytical ear and a well-established idea of the score (with lots of experience under one's belt, one will be able to work with less preparation, but it takes a long time before that). To work with a large number of individuals with different problems, it is very important to hear what stuff does not work properly, find ...


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