The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: There is more to conducting than just waving your arms and pointing your fingers. The New York Times, the Juilliard School of Music and New York University’s Movement Lab offer a revealing deconstruction of a maestro’s movements and motions.

April 15, 2012
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

One of the most exciting and informative classical music stories to appear in a long time is the recent story about what the movements of an orchestra conductor mean.

The conductor is question was the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s music director Alan Gilbert.

Thanks to the Juilliard School of Music, where Gilbert heads up the conducting program, and to New York University’s Movement Lab and its motion-capture computerized graphics, Gilbert was recorded conducting and then explaining what the movements mean.

It is like taking a mini-seminar is an art that takes many years to master, and even then some conductrors obviously do it much better than others. Some conductors — like Leonard Bernstein — flamboyantly sand dangerously danced around a lot on the podium while other conductor — like Fritz Reiner and Herbert van Karajan — were known for an almost total economy of movement.

Here is a link to the terrifically inventive, well researched and well written story by Daniel J. Wakin of The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/arts/music/breaking-conductors-down-by-gesture-and-body-part.html?pagewanted=all

It is fun to take in because it is printed and also an interactive video with highlighted comments by conductor Gilbert (below). Take a look:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/04/06/arts/music/the-connection-between-gesture-and-music.html

And here is a link to a background story and video about how it was made in the lab. It is a fascinating and illuminating explanation that suggests we can expect a lot more in the future of seeing technology illuminate art:

http://50.16.231.236/index.html


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