Choral music is extremely beautiful and heartwarming. The pleasing harmonies and techniques choir singers and orchestras use are breathtaking. If you are a music lover, you might have already seen a lot of choirs and orchestras performing. But, have you ever noticed how the conductor signals the group of musicians? Through this article, we’ll try to figure out the role a conductor plays and what all his gestures mean.
The role of a conductor
Now, conducting is the art of communicating different aspects of music to the musicians. In other words, the music conductor signals the choir or orchestra to play according to the score. So, he/she must learn the score in and out and must feel the varying dimensions of the music.
And, this includes setting and keeping the tempo, conveying time signatures, and shaping the overall sound of the orchestra. But, at the same time, the duties of a music conductor are not limited to these. Moreover, a good music conductor must also be a good listener.
“Basically the hands are there to describe a certain space of the sound and to shape that imaginary material,” – Nézet-Séguin
How does it work?
Traditionally, the music conductor holds a baton in his right hand. He/she uses it to control the tempo and the time signature. In addition to this, the baton can shape the sound of the music. For example, it helps to convey the loudness or softness of the sound.
Baton is a thin stick used by a music conductor to direct a choir or an orchestra.
First, the music conductor makes sure that all the musicians are ready to start the performance. Next, he motions them to play some preparatory beats called upbeats. He/she traces shapes in the air using the right hand or the baton, to stress each measure. While this is happening, he/she might use the left hand to add color to the music. In other words, the music conductor usually uses his/her left hand to give cues to start and cut off.
Upbeat refers to the beat before the piece actually begins and the last beat of a bar while downbeat is the first beat of a bar.
Sometimes, the music conductor will also be the music director of the composition. Indeed, a good music conductor must have thorough knowledge about the various elements of music like articulation, dynamics, tempo and so on. Some famous people under this category are Han-na Chang, John Williams, Brett Mitchell, Susanna Malkki, and Roberto Abbado.
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Source credits: Wikipedia, www.bbc.com, www.nytimes.com