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Author Topic: Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?  (Read 4775 times)

Offline Emilio Romero

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?  "Music" is chaos until it is music.
I mean, the musicians are all experts, they all have sheet music, they know how to and when to play, they probably have practiced the relevant piece for ages...
So... what do conductors really do?
emilio



 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
« Reply #1 on: 30/12/2008 05:27:13 »
They keep the group in order. He waves his stick (what do you call it???) and the violins start or the cellos stop or something. If something does go wrong the conductor can get them back by speeding up or slowing down the beats, otherwise the individuals can't possibly bring order to the group while they are playing their own music.
 

Offline BenV

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
« Reply #2 on: 30/12/2008 08:35:29 »
it's a 'baton'

To add to Chemistry4me's comments, the conductor also controls the dynamic of the music - your sheet music may say 'loudly', 'crescendo' or 'softly' but controlling the rate of dynamic changes, or the extent, is more down to the conductor.  Any changes in tempo will also be co-ordinated by the conductor.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
« Reply #3 on: 30/12/2008 10:38:53 »
Ahh, baton (is that pronounced with a French accent?), of course, how did I not know is beyond me.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
« Reply #4 on: 30/12/2008 11:40:44 »
Further to Ben's reply, each conductor will interpret the music in a different way. Ben used the word "dynamic". The composer would have put marks on the score where the music should be played faster, slower, louder or softer.



In this example you can see the phrase "meno mosso". This means that passage is to be played at a slower tempo. But how slow? That is where the condutor comes into his own. By using his baton, he directs the tempo and will slow the orchestra down according to his interpretation of the music. You can also see the letters p and f (standing for, respectively, piano and forte - soft & loud).
 

Offline Emilio Romero

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
« Reply #5 on: 30/12/2008 13:54:40 »
But the musicians aren't even L :o :oKING at the conductor....
Ok, new question...
How well will an orchestra perform if any of us inexperienced mortals were to conduct (being -us- familiar with the musical piece they are to play??)
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
« Reply #6 on: 30/12/2008 22:47:47 »
They most certainly do look at the conductor. They know from the score in front of them when they should look. A good musician looks at the score about 8 bars ahead of what he's playing so they have plenty of time to look. You probably wouldn't notice it much as a member of the audience as they only move their eyes, not their whole head.

Believe me, an untrained person trying to conduct an orchestra would make a right pig's ear of it. You have to keep the tempo with 1 hand and dictate volume and emphasis with the other. It's a lot harder than patting your head & rubbing your belly at the same time.

I'm a classically trained musician and when I tried conducting a small orchestra I made a right mess of it (we tried it as an exercise at music college). The conductor's score has the music for all the instruments whereas musicians only have their own. The conductor has to keep track of where in the piece each section has to do what and then indicate that to them. And, of course, the conductor has to set & keep the tempo. It's not at all easy.
« Last Edit: 30/12/2008 22:54:43 by DoctorBeaver »
 

Offline Pumblechook

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
« Reply #7 on: 30/12/2008 23:07:26 »
I think baguette is the correct word for a conductor's baton in French. 
« Last Edit: 30/12/2008 23:39:20 by Pumblechook »
 

Offline JnA

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
« Reply #8 on: 30/12/2008 23:37:03 »
All conductors should be called Maestro.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
« Reply #9 on: 30/12/2008 23:55:39 »
All conductors should be called Maestro.

Not so. In ordinary classical music Maestro is reserved for those who teach or who have gained great respect in their career. However, conductors are always referred to as Maestro in the world of opera. Operatic orchestral instrument leads, such as the first violin, are also called Maestro.
 

Offline JnA

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
« Reply #10 on: 31/12/2008 00:33:10 »
No, I mean that should be their name.. like naming your child Jeeves...   setting out their path in life.
 

Offline yor_on

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
« Reply #11 on: 31/12/2008 10:15:14 »
Also the conductor gives us a focus for our mutual admiration :)
But I can see your point there, it's after all the musicians that create the music.
But (s)he will be a focus creating a coherence.

-----

There are some famous examples of orchestras doing just fine without any maestro.
But when they 'sync' with them great music are created.
« Last Edit: 31/12/2008 10:17:26 by yor_on »
 

lyner

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
« Reply #12 on: 02/01/2009 13:55:47 »
One thing that the Conductor can do, which no one else can do in a symphony orchestra, is to get the sound balance right. Toscanini, it is said, used to do without a sound engineer during early recordings ( a single pair of mics). They gave him a programme meter and he just kept the needle in the right place (for recording)  by conducting well.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
« Reply #13 on: 02/01/2009 14:08:31 »
SC - very good point
 

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Are symphonic orchestra conductors really necessary?
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