03-25-07 - 3

So we went to the symphony last night. The hall here is really quite nice, cool looking and functional. It was pretty boring so I spent a lot of time looking around noticing little things. For the first time I really paid attention to the conductor. My mom was a concert violist (not a typo of violinist but a viola player), and she taught me that there really is a point to a conductor - without him the orchestra can actually get out of sync. You see an orchestra plays without monitors, and while you can hear your own instrument fine and your own group, you usually can't hear the instruments on the opposite side of the stage, so if there was no master sync, there could be a spectrum across the stage of people being slightly off from each other. The conductor provides a visual guide to keep everyone in sync. Anyway, I've seen a lot of conductors that just sort of seem to be dancing along with the music, waving their arms to the beat. I suppose that works okay to keep people in sync, but it's not guiding the music because if you're moving *on* the beat it's too late to guide people to hit the beat. This guy actually appeared to be directing the music. He would point out the cues to the different instruments, and he would actually do it *ahead* of the beat. It was really weird to watch him because he'd make a big arm movement and it would appear totally unrelated to anything, and then half a second later the horns come screaming in from his cue. For me, conducting like that would be impossible - there's this natural urge to sync your movements onto the beat, and fighting that to do them just ahead seems really difficult.

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old rants