What a conductor actually does on stage

What a conductor actually does on stage



When Gustav Mahler was still alive in
the early 1900s, you see these caricatures of him and
it's crazy gestures his arms are up he's jumping up and down on the podium,
extremely large gestures. At the same time Richard Strauss another composer
living in the same city basically was conducting his own music like this. You know, barely moving and if you think this is a quiet part in his music you're
wrong. He thought the role of a conductor was to organize the music and keep
everything calm. Our biggest job as a conductor, it's to do justice to the
composer. My name is James Gaffigan I am a conductor. What the public needs to
understand about conducting is it's an anticipatory art, so what we do takes
place before the music happens. Rhythmic hand goes up before the music starts and
this hand will give a gesture before that sound. I've always found it strange to hold a baton and it's a very strange thing,
because why why is it there in the first place? But the fact of the matter is is
it is an extension of your arm. If you just make a gesture like this, you just
need to move your wrist and you don't have to be doing this all the time. Your right hand is mainly for keeping rhythm or keeping the beat patterns, so if you
give an upbeat this is 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4. If you have 2 4, it's very simple so 1 2
1 2 and you could be as small as this they'll realize that this is 2 4. From the left hand has a much more complex, strange role in our physical world and
it's freer to do things that are out of the
ordinary. It could be anything from showing where a phrase goes, it could show speed of a bow. String players are very physical in the sense
that they they react to what they see. If you have your left hand open and if you
have your right hand slightly open and you're holding this sound like as if
you'd hold a baby they'll play that way. If you conduct like this they're gonna play like this. Percussion needs clarity
from a conductor. They need to know where to hit something and the bass drum could
play only one note in an hour-long symphony, but that note is very important. The worst thing you could do to a brass
player before he or she plays is this. Because if they see the hand before they
have to make the beautiful sound that they need to make it's gonna destroy
their confidence and it's gonna make their lives very difficult. Playing the French Horn, there's so much that person needs to think about and it's such a
delicate instrument, such a delicate moment. Leonard Bernstein was one of the
greatest musicians who who had ever lived, not just as a conductor but as a
pianist and as a composer. He was able to educate not just adults but children. Of
course when you watch him, he's always dancing and he can't he can't help
moving around the podium and his rhythm is contagious. Karajan believed in beautiful sound, upholstered sound, luxurious sound. So if
you hear some of the great recordings of Karajan, it's not always together at
these crucial moments but there's a beauty of sound always from beginning to
end. I mean he had his eyes closed half the
time and everything was he was just holding this precious thing all the time
and crouched over. Carlos Kleiber was all you know, he was holding a magic wand. He was fantasy, pure fantasy. He would make beautiful story lines to pieces
that didn't have story lines. He was all about this gesture and these beautiful
sweeping gestures. I don't believe in jumping around during a Bruckner
symphony, I think there's something sacred and it's unnecessary. I do believe
in having a great time with jazz music and music that swings. You should make
the audience want to dance although you shouldn't be a circus act. I think people
should focus on the music and not the conductor you

21 thoughts on “What a conductor actually does on stage

  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    Just love conductors – they make a world of difference if they are truly passionate about their work. One of my favourites is Leopold in Bugs Bunny smile He really 'brought the house down'! It was an animated comedic homage to Leopold Stokowski who in his style and passion showed you do not even need a baton to conduct and master an orchestra like the true artist Maestro conductor he was… – I only wish there were more like him today – he understood music – he was a genius ! He conducted Disney's Fantasia like no other could bring it and it is fitting to have made this comedic homage to him in bringing the world of music to children… See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt1V61SPI_w

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    conductor is fake job. doesn't actually effect the band or music.

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    If it’s the conductor’s job to serve the composer, how come the ‘conductor’s’ name is always up in font size googleplex^n, black on white (or vice cersa) on CD’s while the composer’s name is font size 6, grey on grey background? Modern professional orchestras are so skilled – they don’t need a f*****g overblown sleb to tell them what to do (or, as is often the case, distort the composer’s specific directions to such a degree that the music simply evaporates). So we have SKRZWKJXZCSKY’s Beethoven instead of just Beethoven.

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    How about drum major/band conductor conducting?

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    Bugs Bunny was the best conductor ever. GOAT.

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    Thank you for this. Very informative.

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    Uhhhhh. They do nothing on stage hahaha

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    Any musicians out there…

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    Wow this is what it looks like when an idiot is trying to justify his pointless Job.

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    I was always curious bout this

    Reply
  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    Watching Mr. Bean act as a conductor has made my life better

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    Me years ago: Those sexy conductors just showing off their asses
    Me now: Oh so I've never been seduced…

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    as a low brass player, I greatly appreciated the comment about giving brass players "the hand"

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    You can get off my recommended now 😂

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    very good – this occupation need to be combined with zamboni driver

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    Me as a conductor, do agree… 🙂

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    The most useless job ever.

    Reply
  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    I would like to hear a song WITH a conductor. And then hear the same song WITHOUT a conductor.

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    What’s the name of the music in the background at 3:45

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  • May 21, 2019 at 3:33 am
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    Alternatively the orchestra could play as the composer notated and intended and then no conductor would be necessary.

    Reply

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