Have you ever pondered on what influence or perhaps roles a music conductors have on their ensembles or orchestras? I have too.
A music conductor has got one of the most visible jobs in the world. They simply cannot be hidden while at their duty post. Despite this obvious, many people are still completely oblivious on what they actually do…in an orchestra or ensemble.
What difference do music conductors make to their orchestra or ensemble? are they actually needed? would the orchestra still play without them? And why do they sweat so much?
Moreso, they seem important. After all, they’re standing in the middle of the stage and waving their hands. But the musicians all have scores before them that tells them what to play. If you took the conductor away, could the orchestra manage on its own? Well, I’m going to be speaking based on my own point of view as I know lots lot of people have different opinions on this subject matter.
First, are conductors important or necessary in an orchestra? My answer is Yes.
Now, while some people may have contrary opinion I will quickly give you my facts and reasons I think music conductors are important and needful in every ensemble or orchestra.
In my previous article on Role of Music Conductors, I gave us a brief summary of who a conductor is and their roles, you might want to read that up. Moving ahead, an orchestra is composed for several musicians, not just a few people. In other to coordinate them together in an organized fashion, they need someone in charge. This person is known as the conductor.
Conductors play a vital key in making the musicians or players look good.
It’s undeniably quicker and easier to prepare for a concert with a conductor – even if he/she is pretty bad – than without one.
ARE CONDUCTORS NEEDED IN AN ORCHESTRA?
There are thousands of decisions to be made in how to interpret a two-hour concert. The conductor plays a big role. Here are some of the roles a conductor plays in an ensemble;
1. How fast should the music be played (literally) EVERY moment? This is 100% the conductor’s decision. After many phrases or even individual notes, there exist the possibility to make a slight pause or little break before continuing. The conductor decides when to do this and how long it should last.
2. The conductor also decided how loud the orchestra should be playing at every moment. He/she has to balance the orchestra i.e adjust the relative volumes of the various instrument.
3. A conductor ensures that all musician (instrumentalists) works as a unit, i.e ensuring all instruments are in harmony as to how the music is performed.
4. Some would say, any member of the orchestra could pretty much step on the podium and competently direct a piece they know so well. But I say, the value a typical conductor adds is EFFICIENCY.
5. Need I say, one of the beautiful truth about classical music is that different performances of a single piece may be completely true to a composer’s notation yet sound so different from each other. This is a major role of the conductor. He simply beautifies the composer’s music.
6. A vigilant conductor spends time considering details of the score, trying to get closer and deeper to the truth of the composer’s apparent wishes. He interprets the emotions of the composer and guide the musicians into playing the piece. It is this yearning for truth that yields novel and compelling performances.
OTHER MINUTE ROLES OF A MUSIC CONDUCTOR
It is noteworthy that other diligent musicians may also be able to engage with the notation of their parts/score at the level of intimacy without a conductor. However, with larger orchestra or ensembles, a conductor’s responsibility is to indicate to everyone and convince them of how the piece being rehearsed ought to be played during performances,
Conductors are mangers. They also can work quickly in managing dispute elegantly in the ensemble, and still guide the group towards successful musical ends whilst imparting their artistic stamp on things. Generally, they have great management skills. A friend once said to me “A good conductor is like a good chef, one who can take a good ingredient and make a great meal. Funny but true.
CONDUCTORS ARE SUPER HUMAN MUSICIANS
The most important part of a conductor job is the attention they put into the music. The conductor hears what the players can’t. By being in the center of the music, they get to hear all parts which helps in their decision to improve the orchestra not just technically but also in essential elements of music such as intonation and rhythm. Conductors are simply super human musicians.
So the next time you see a conductor at work, take a closer look at their connection to their players and be rest assured they do more than just waving their hands, little wonder they sweat alot.
What’s you opinion, Do you still think every orchestra needs a conductor? Would love to hear your thoughts. Drop it in the comment box below.
I am Music Estate’s Music Director