Page:Essentials in Conducting.djvu/84

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ESSENTIALS IN CONDUCTING

the letter. For this reason no attempt will be made to discuss these matters further, the topic belonging to composition rather than to conducting.

PHYSICAL MEANS USED BY THE CONDUCTOR FOR INDICATING EXPRESSIONAL EFFECTSNow that we have reviewed the elements of expression somewhat fully, what of the conductor? Shall we give him a set of specific directions for making his chorus or orchestra sing or play more loudly or more rapidly or more dramatically? Our reply is—no, not any more than we should attempt to show the student of acting or oratory exactly what gestures he is to make use of in playing upon the emotions of his audience. As implied at the outset, the thing that is necessary in both cases is that the interpreter have:

  1. General scholarship.
  2. An intimate acquaintance with the content and spirit of the particular work to be interpreted.

Granting the presence of these two things, the actual gestures will usually take care of themselves. The conductor Altschuler remarks on this point:

There is no artificial code of signals needed between the conductor and his men; what the conductor needs is a clear conception of the composition.

We are fully in accord with this sentiment; but for the benefit of the tyro it may be well to note again that, in general, a quickening of tempo is indicated by a shorter, more vigorous stroke of the baton, whereas a slowing down in rate of speed, especially when accompanied by a letting down of emotional intensity, involves a longer, more flowing movement, with more back stroke. Louder tone is often indicated by the clenched fist, the fortissimo effect at the climacteric point often involving a strong muscular contraction in the entire body; while softer tone is frequently called for by holding the left hand