Before and after. Correction of gestural and expressional misunderstandings in orchestral conducting

University essay from IT-universitetet i Göteborg/Tillämpad informationsteknologi

Abstract: The conductor of an orchestra is a central figure. He inspires musicians during rehearsals and leads them during performance. The main way how a conductor expresses his ideas comes from his nonverbal language and this study investigates the professional nonverbal language of a conductor. The purpose of this study is to discover whether there is a difference in nonverbal language of a conductor after spotting misunderstandings during a rehearsal. During an orchestra rehearsal, a conductor stops the orchestra and gives some comments to musicians and then they repeat the same bars one more time. The research interest here is to find out whether the conductor repeats his movements after the stop and if not, what the difference in his nonverbal language is. For this study there was chosen a video recording approach and a quantitative method where all gestures are counted, encoded and expressed as a percentage. The data was recorded during two different opera rehearsals with two different conductors at the Göteborg Opera, Sweden. The findings reveal that after the stop both conductors increased using gaze and deictic gestures in both hands. However, they reduce the use of head and posture movements. At the same time conductors increase expressiveness of the left hand. First conductor emphasizes time beating that comes from the march genre while second conductor increases the vibrato effect that emphasizes the lyrical side of the opera.

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