Performing Conductor/Conducting Performer

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Performing Conductor/Conducting Performer

Postby navneeth » Wed Dec 13, 2006 8:25 am

I've noticed that many performances have one of the performers as the conductor (Barenboim comes to mind). How do they manage to do this?
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Re: Performing Conductor/Conducting Performer

Postby Catmando » Wed Dec 13, 2006 8:33 am

navneeth wrote:I've noticed that many performances have one of the performers as the conductor (Barenboim comes to mind). How do they manage to do this?


I'm not sure how they manage it. But it was common in the past. Mozart and Beethoven conducted many of their own piano concertos while playing the solo part. I'm sure there are many other examples.
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Postby barfle » Wed Dec 13, 2006 9:15 am

I've seen a few concerts where the performer supposedly conducted as well. Can't say there was much conducting going on during the performance. But I would guess rehearsals had some pretty carefully worked-out parts.
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Postby navneeth » Wed Dec 13, 2006 9:33 am

That brings up another question that's been nagging me for a long time, long before I was into classical music, and it's probably silly too: Why have a conductor at all? Most, if not all, orchestras have the most talented musicians, and they have their rehearsals.
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Postby barfle » Wed Dec 13, 2006 10:37 am

navneeth wrote:Why have a conductor at all? Most, if not all, orchestras have the most talented musicians, and they have their rehearsals.

Every team needs a manager. You may well be an expert in your field, but if you're on a team, you need someone to direct the team. If everyone in the orchestra played the music to their own interpretation, It might be interesting, but it might also be cacaphony.

I remember when the Pacific Symphony picked up Carl St Clair as their director and chief conductor. It was impressive, even to my naive senses, how much MORE MUSIC came out of what was essentially the same ensemble, with just a different guy waving the stick.

And no, I have no idea how that works.
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Postby piqaboo » Wed Dec 13, 2006 4:47 pm

barfle's answer addresses musicality, which of course is the end goal.

In addition, there may be a basic skills component.
I think number comes into it as well. Its relatively easy for a small group to hear all the parts and keep the beat the same.
The more players/performers you have, the harder it is to hear them all (from buried within them), and the easier it is to get off the tempo slightly, especially during rests.

Imagine counting 5 bars of rests, and not being able to hear the triangle that is the soloist, then coming in exactly on time with 12 other players. Probably there'd be a tiny bit of stagger-start. To prevent it, the section leader would start beating time visibly... soon there'd be a conductor in each section (can you say "first chair" boys and girls?), and then... the role of conductor would re-evolve.

This begs the question of how marching bands pull it off. I suspect there is something about actually marching that makes it easier to keep everyone on the same tempo. Manage it or get stepped on - something like that.
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Wed Dec 13, 2006 5:00 pm

piqaboo wrote:This begs the question of how marching bands pull it off...

They have a Drum Major. The job closely resembles that of a conductor.
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