January 7th, 2013

Of course, this is the easy part of what a conductor does

But still, the kid’s impressive, if only as a music expressor:

11 Responses to “Of course, this is the easy part of what a conductor does”

  1. southpaw Says:

    cute kid. When I was in high school, I got kicked out of the orchestra for doing this behind our instructor’s back. He didn’t think I was talented, although the rest of the orchestra laughed a lot.
    Recognizing I was gifted with the ability to make people laugh, it launched an informal career as an internet comedian. Results so far have been mixed.

  2. Occam's Beard Says:

    I’ve never understood exactly what conductors do, other than give the musicians some indication of timing and the audience something to focus on, namely, the violent head tosses and other histrionic maneuvers.

  3. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    One of my secret dreams was to be a conductor. I loved “conducting” at home in front of the radio/tape player and favored symphony, classical, and martial music. My all time favorite music to conduct was John William’s Star Wars composition. After watching me do my thing in front of the radio/tape player, as a gag my daughter gifted me with a baton. It got a lot of use over the years. :>) Not being a dancer, it always seemed to me to be a grand way to express my reaction to music. Then, of course, there’s a certain feeling of control that comes with the idea of leading a group of musicians. Feeling the music and being in control. What’s not to like?

    For some reason (age and falling testosterone levels?) I no longer “conduct” music in private. It is enough to just let it fill my senses.

  4. csimon Says:

    Boy, is that kid cute! And yes, he is a beautiful expressor of the music. (And I noticed — most adult conductors are all sweaty and exhausted with hair askew and such after a big piece. This kid didn’t break a sweat at all, and looked as if he had not yet done a thing!

    I have zero musical background (though I often wished I did – neither of my parents ever listened to music. I think if not for my rabid love of show tunes and certain movie musical scores, there would have been no music ever played in my home).

    I’ve been to the symphony many times (and have thoroughly enjoyed it) but the conductor’s job was always a mystery to me! (Prob. part of the reason I enjoyed it so much — it was all a mystery!)

    Why he would come onstage after the orchestra was seated, to much audience applause stumped me. And after the programme, he got all the credit, often standing ovations. And I always thought about the musicians who (I thought) were doing all the work!

    I do know that conductors “arrange” the music and usually have intimate knowledge of almost every musical instrument. That’s a start (Tho’ still not really sure what arranging a piece is about) Isn’t a musical piece written by a composer to be played as was intended by the composer with all the notes and parts, the speed at which it is played, the rhythms — aren’t those indicated on the written music page.?
    And isn’t there a standard no. of musicians in an orchestra (i.e. so many wind instruments, string instruments, woodwinds, percussion, etc.) So again, what does conductor actually do?

    (Ironically, I’ve always been an artist and designer and have a wide and varied background in most applied and visual arts. But music? Nada. I learned 4 languages, but still can’t read a note of music!)

    (to those music afficionados — my apologies for my ignorance)

  5. mezzrow Says:

    It has been awhile, but I have done a lot of conducting.

    What you see in performance is but a reflection of agreements that have been made in rehearsal, for any conductor worth his salt is much more concerned with what is unfolding in front of him than behind him.

    I guess you have to understand the little things that can happen with a gifted conductor and the sense of “flow” you get while in the zone, both as a player and a conductor. Some nights it happens, some nights it doesn’t. When I am in the audience and things are “in the flow”, the audience can really get caught up in the experience. I’ve felt it on the box, in the band, and in the hall. It might be a raised eyebrow, a smile, a gesture of urgency, or a look of complete bliss – a great wielder of the stick knows when and what to do. One more thing – if the score’s not in your head, your head will be in the score – and there’s not much magic when that happens.

  6. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    My favorite young conductor/expressor is three-year-old Jonathan, seen here:
    This has been around for awhile (almost 8 million views!). Jonathan’s probably in school by now and playing video games and has forgotten all about how he once felt about Beethoven. However, I find it impossible to watch him conduct or express or whatever the heck it is he’s doing with such joy, without hearing the music afresh myself as though I too were hearing it with brand new three-year-old ears and a wide-open three-year-old heart.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    My understanding of what a conductor does is that the major part of it takes place in rehearsal. He is like a director of a play—the actors act, in ensemble, but he gives them pointers about how to act together, what the tone of the play is, what emphasis he wants, etc. —what you might call the interpretation of the piece. A conductor also sets the rhythms. Different orchestras can sound very different from each other, even playing the same piece. Abd the same orchestra can sound different under the direction of different conductors.

    Let’s say, for example, that the horn section of the orchestra sounds ragged in rehearsal. The conductor has a great ear for that (he doesn’t just hear the whole, he hears each separate part very clearly as well) and he tells them. Then he rehearses them and guides them towards the sound he wants, including whether they should be louder or softer. He pays attention to the balance of sounds in the orchestra.

  8. southpaw Says:

    mezzrow- all joking aside, I remember as a player the conductor setting a tempo and its probably overly simplistic, but directing a bunch of muscians who would otherwise play the piece in a relatively flat manner, or who knows actually – as i understood the lectures afterward, we either were following his cues and he was putting it together the way he wanted to hear it or he ” lost us ” I always pictured him like a musician himself, directing each orchestral section with inflections for timing or emphasis to give the piece his own interpretation.. At least thats what i got out of his expectations, but like I said, I was ejected for lack of seriousness, after about 9 years playing. .
    In yjis video, You’d probably have to be in the orchestra to know who’s leading who here.

  9. Julie Says:

    From the perspective of a long-time performer, the conductor’s role is a little like that of a driver of a team of horses. Yes, the horses do all the work, but the driver sets their pacing and provides guidance.

    Good directors know exactly how they want the music to sound, and how best to draw that sound from the musicians who follow them. Great directors can improvise in the midst of a performance, and make it seem as though it was meant to be that way.

  10. Pat Says:

    That was mesmerizing. Hard to know how it came about because I can’t read the language around the You-Tube page.

  11. Pat Says:

    More here.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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