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    What exactly do the conductors of orchestras do?

    I mean, I know they keep time. But then why are people like Sir Simon Rattle so famous for conducting? How did he manage to get knighted? Is conducting really that difficult? Is it much more difficult than anything the drummer of a band does? What separates a good conductor from a mediocre one?

    Suppose someone wanted to become a conductor - but they haven't really studied Music at university or anything, they just took drum lessons for a while. Is there any reason why they can't become one?
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    Conducting is about interpretation too.
    ex, playing something in the French Overture style over Italian overture.
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    (Original post by nk9230)
    Conducting is about interpretation too.
    ex, playing something in the French Overture style over Italian overture.
    Ok, but suppose you've interpreted a piece of music in a certain way. How are you meant to get that interpretation across to the orchestra? How are they meant to understand any of the conductor's movements, besides the 1,2,3,4 of the conducting baton? How can they all be expected to interpret the conductor's actions in the same way? Is there like a "standard language" that's used?

    I've been in a choir for a long time, and it's actually only just dawned on me that even though I can keep in time by watching the conductor, I don't have a clue as to what else he's doing
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    Once you've played in an orchestra with a really crap conductor, you realise the importance of conducting!
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    Alot of the amazing conductors know a whole concerto without actually having to lokk at the score, and will know where every part has to come in, and what they should be playing, when, and how it should be played.

    I think that takes alot of skill really
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    (Original post by C-h-a-r_7)
    Alot of the amazing conductors know a whole concerto without actually having to lokk at the score, and will know where every part has to come in, and what they should be playing, when, and how it should be played.

    I think that takes alot of skill really
    Why does the conductor need to know any of that though? Don't the individual members of the orchestra already know their own parts, what to play, when to come in, how to play it etc. from before?

    I can see that the conductor would have to organise the thing from beforehand, but what is he doing during the actual performance, other than keeping time? What exactly is he doing that a visual metronome display couldn't do?

    The conductor moves his baton, and the orchestra can use that as a reference to keep in time with each other. But apart from the tempo, what other information can be deduced from the conductor, during performance? I really don't get it :confused:
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)

    The conductor moves his baton, and the orchestra can use that as a reference to keep in time with each other. But apart from the tempo, what other information can be deduced from the conductor, during performance? I really don't get it :confused:
    He organises the players in the first place, and decides what they are actually going to play.
    It stops any indifferences in the orchestra - as what the conductor says goes.

    They chose Dynamics - yes they may be written, however interpretation is very important.

    And also if you have a long rest of around 56 bars or something, especially with changing time signatures, then the liklihood of everyone coming in right isn't amazing - so the conducter will bring them in.
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    The conductor shows the feelings of the piece to the orchestra.
    He/she can also try to pull them back or push them forwards as well.
    The conductor puts the piece together in rehearsal and then makes sure that's recreated in a performance.
    It's also more challenging than being a drummer because you're having to follow several parts simultaneously whilst keeping the beat and injecting some passion into the orchestra.

    Also mentioned, having a medicre conductor is more alarming than you'd think. It makes everything really difficult.
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    This reminds me of two of my favourite music jokes:

    -- Mummy, can you get pregnant through anal sex?
    -- Of course, dear, where do you think conductors come from?

    And,

    -- What's the difference between a baby and a conductor?
    -- A baby sucks its fingers.
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    ok. let's get one thing straight. a conductor's role is NOT to keep everyone "in time". in fact, i hate that phrase "in time" or "in tempo" or "keeping the beat" so much that... *shudder* such terms do not REALLY exist in music - listen to the bohemian quartet (czech quartet, the one with suk in it), and you'll see where i'm coming from.
    if you imagine an instrument, say, for argument's sake, the violin. the different parts of the violin - strings, bows, even your fingers, are like different parts of the orchestra, and the person playing it is the conductor. to undermine the role of the conductor is... well... you know..
    the orchestra is the instrument, and the conductor is the player - which is why i hate playing in orchestras. i'm sure nigel kenedy would disagree with me, but fine, i'd really like to meet him one day to argue my case.
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    (Original post by unikq)
    ok. let's get one thing straight. a conductor's role is NOT to keep everyone "in time". in fact, i hate that phrase "in time" or "in tempo" or "keeping the beat" so much that... *shudder* such terms do not REALLY exist in music - listen to the bohemian quartet (czech quartet, the one with suk in it), and you'll see where i'm coming from.
    if you imagine an instrument, say, for argument's sake, the violin. the different parts of the violin - strings, bows, even your fingers, are like different parts of the orchestra, and the person playing it is the conductor. to undermine the role of the conductor is... well... you know..
    the orchestra is the instrument, and the conductor is the player - which is why i hate playing in orchestras. i'm sure nigel kenedy would disagree with me, but fine, i'd really like to meet him one day to argue my case.
    Ok, the person who's playing a violin is controlling all different parts of the violin. So you're saying the conductor is controlling all different parts of the orchestra.

    How exactly is he doing this? He's moving a baton around. What are the orchestra meant to interpret from this?

    Suppose you're in an orchestra, and you're watching the conductor waving his baton. How is the conductor going to affect the way you play your instrument? What difference would it make if you chose to ignore the conductor?

    What do the conductor's different actions actually mean? And also, what is he doing with the hand with no baton in it?
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    Ok, the person who's playing a violin is controlling all different parts of the violin. So you're saying the conductor is controlling all different parts of the orchestra.

    How exactly is he doing this? He's moving a baton around. What are the orchestra meant to interpret from this?

    Suppose you're in an orchestra, and you're watching the conductor waving his baton. How is the conductor going to affect the way you play your instrument? What difference would it make if you chose to ignore the conductor?

    What do the conductor's different actions actually mean? And also, what is he doing with the hand with no baton in it?
    Think of the conductor as a piece of thread that holds everyone together.
    Take it away and the different sections generally kind of fall away.
    Obviously the orchestra could probably get through a piece with no conductor, but as a musician myself; I'd find it very uncomfortable.
    The baton hand is showing everyone the beats, so everyone knows that we are on beat 1 for example. But it also controlls the exact tempo in case of tempo changes. The other hand is more vague and general. It can signify to the performers when to make their enterance and to either project more or something.
    The role of the conductor is a subtle one and a new conductor can entirely change a piece.
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    Ok, the person who's playing a violin is controlling all different parts of the violin. So you're saying the conductor is controlling all different parts of the orchestra.

    How exactly is he doing this? He's moving a baton around. What are the orchestra meant to interpret from this?

    Suppose you're in an orchestra, and you're watching the conductor waving his baton. How is the conductor going to affect the way you play your instrument? What difference would it make if you chose to ignore the conductor?

    What do the conductor's different actions actually mean? And also, what is he doing with the hand with no baton in it?
    ok... WHAT?
    have you EVER been to/seen an orchestra rehersal (i don't mean a high school or local youth orchestra, i mean a proper orchestra be it professional or semi-prof)? the conductor TELLS you what he wants where, and when you attend 3 or 4 rehersals, you can see what he's doing, and how he shows it. I have such a strong testimony of what the conductor can do through a concert we did years back with my junior conservetoire in london.

    To answer the next question, if you chose to ignore the conductor, well, then firstly, youre a **** musician and a negative asset to the orchestra, but second of all, you'd get fired. i've seen conductors get pissed off and stressed over on too many occasions, because he wasn't getting what he wanted despite being so clear about it - the individual players have their own sound/style, but then again, going back to the playing the violin analogy, so do your individual fingers have their own character and sound.

    (Original post by Doublereedfreak)
    Obviously the orchestra could probably get through a piece with no conductor, but as a musician myself; I'd find it very uncomfortable.
    The baton hand is showing everyone the beats, so everyone knows that we are on beat 1 for example. But it also controlls the exact tempo in case of tempo changes. The other hand is more vague and general. It can signify to the performers when to make their enterance and to either project more or something.
    i must say, i disagree. sure, if what you mean by "getting through" a piece is just playing from start to finish and "being together", then yes, an orchestra would have no problem. but that wouldn't be music, and if that were the way, why don't we all just listen to sibelius playback? i wouldn't say i find it uncomfortable, i would find it pointless, and a waste of my time.

    i will look for a good conductor on youtube for this cause. i'm thinking barenboim, but i don't know.. brb
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    (Original post by unikq)



    i must say, i disagree. sure, if what you mean by "getting through" a piece is just playing from start to finish and "being together", then yes, an orchestra would have no problem. but that wouldn't be music, and if that were the way, why don't we all just listen to sibelius playback? i wouldn't say i find it uncomfortable, i would find it pointless, and a waste of my time.

    i will look for a good conductor on youtube for this cause. i'm thinking barenboim, but i don't know.. brb
    I was actually sharing the same point as you. But seeing as the person we were explaining to is thinking in literal terms, understandably, I was trying to explain this better.
 
 
 
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