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University of Huddersfield School of Music, Humanities and Media

Performance Skills 2
Major (AIM2411) / Minor (AIM2412)

Performance Skills 3
Major (AHM3411) / Minor (AHM3412)

CONDUCTING

Module Handbook 2010 2011

Module Tutor: Natalia Luis-Bassa


N.Luis-Bassa@hud.ac.uk

Objectives This module enables you to develop a sound practical and theoretical approach to conducting. The technique of conducting, like instrumental technique, requires regular practice. You will be given exercises to enable you to develop and reinforce practical skills, and you will be taught methods of score preparation and analysis. By the end of this module you will be able to conduct a performance of a substantial work, and understand in depth the theory and practice of conducting.

PART ONE
In Part one you will follow a programme of exercises designed to help you understand and develop fundamental technical skills. In week 6, you will be given a formative assessment of these exercises, with feedback provided in the form of a short written report. Towards the end of Part One you will prepare and conduct a short movement for your first summative assessment. This will give you the opportunity to apply the technical skills you have acquired through the exercise programme.

Session 1

Introduction; exchanging experiences Forming a basis: What is conducting about? Why did you choose to learn conducting? Training the arm Acquiring and using the baton Beating patterns

Important basic principles Clicks, impulses; Preparatory beats; Knowing when to intervene

3, 4 & 5

Directing the musical expression Beating style legato & staccato Crescendo & diminuendo use of left hand Sudden dynamic changes Accelerando & ritardando

6 7&8

Formative assessment of the skills learned in classes 2-5 Preparing a score Study Work 1: Elgar Nancy Elementary analysis; Phrases and phrasing; Application of technical procedures; Giving cues, ensemble geography; Marking the score???

9 & 10 11

Practice with ensemble Summative assessment 1: Performance of Elgar Nancy (15%) AND Distribution of Study Work 2: Elgar Serenade for Strings Op. 20 (first movement), for analysis, to be submitted on session 13

PART TWO

Part Two begins by focusing on the learning and application of methodical score preparation and analysis. You will then have the opportunity to apply the analytical and technical skills which you learned in Part One to the preparation and performance of two substantial movements. You will also be required to submit an analysis assignment.

Session 12

Score preparation and analysis, discussion Establishing the need; Analytical methods: Nicolai Malko Traditional formal analysis; Analysis presentation

13, 14 & 15

Analysis and practice (with ensemble) Study Work 2: Elgar Serenade for Strings Op. 20 (first movement) Developing more advanced technical skills; Clear definition of musical style; Varying the size of the beat; Developing an independent left hand

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Summative assessment 2: Performance of Elgar Serenade for Strings Op. 20 (first movement) (25%) AND Distribution of Study Work 3: Strauss: Serenade for Wind Op. 7, for analysis, to be submitted with Learning Journal on 05/05/11 (30%)

17 21 Practice with ensemble 22 Summative assessment 3: performance of Strauss: Serenade for Wind Op. 7 (30%)

ASSESSMENT

Performance Skills 2 Major (AIM2411) / Minor (AIM2412)

Assessment Task

Due Date

Length/Word Count

Assessment Weighting

Formative Summative 1 (Performance) Summative 2 (Performance) Summative 3 (Performance) Summative 4 (Learning Journal + Analysis of Study Work 3)

Session 6 Session 11

n/a n/a

n/a 15%

Session 16

n/a

25%

Session 22

n/a

30%

3,000 words (Major) / 05/05/2011 1,500 words (Minor)

30%

Performance Skills 3 Major (AHM3411) / Minor (AHM3412)

Assessment Task

Due Date

Length/Word Count

Assessment Weighting

Formative Summative 1 (Performance) Summative 2 (Performance) Summative 3 (Performance) Summative 4 (Learning Journal + Analysis of Study Work 3)

Session 6 Session 11

n/a n/a

n/a 15%

Session 16

n/a

25%

Session 22

n/a

30%

3,500 words (Major) / 05/05/2011 2,000 words (Minor)

30%

Introduction The conductor functions on three independent levels:

Personal study. On the first level, the conductor prepares both technically and artistically. On this level he/she must be musician, historian, stylist, orchestrator and listener. He/she must understand the historical context in which a particular work is conceived and bring the stylistic requirements inherent in the work. Among the elements of stylistic validity are tempi and dynamics. A Mozart allegro differs by far from a Tchaikovsky allegro. Similarly, a forte in Haydn is an entirely different matter from a Wagner forte. Finally, while he/she studies, the conductor must listen objectively to the work, pacing its progress, spacing its climaxes, deriving a general aural concept of the musical architecture, and evaluating its merit as it will be heard by the public. He/ she must recall Richard Strauss dictum: Remember that you are making music not for your own pleasure but for the joy of the listeners. Rehearsal. The second level upon which the conductor functions is the rehearsal, in which he/she prepares the orchestra both technically and artistically. It is on this level that he/she acts as a guide to the orchestra, building up in their minds a concept of the work, for the eventual public performance requires an enlightened and sensitive orchestra playing not under a conductor, but rather with him/her. During the rehearsal he/she must clarify all problems of metrics and tempi, elucidating his/her own pacing of the work. He/she must temper all dynamic markings so that the instrumental sound is balanced in all its components. The older composers always wrote the same dynamics vertically for each simultaneous part, straight down the page in the scores. It was only composers like Mahler or Wagner, who realized the pitfalls of dynamics incautiously marked. Performance. It is in performance that the conductor operates upon the highest and most demanding level. Here the work is finished technically; the orchestra is fully prepared for all of its demands. But it is at this crucial time that the most difficult function of the conductor comes into full play. He/she must be prepared to instantaneously make any adjustments, large or small, in the actual performance required for the fullest realization of his/her inner concept. Many factors make this necessary: a different hall, a players momentary inattention, the effect of several thousand persons upon the acoustics, even the understandable enthusiasm of performance which might affect the tempo. At such moment the conductor meets his/her greatest challenge, for the progress of the work must not suffer in the slightest; there must be no detectable hitch. In the extent to which he/ she succeed on any or all of these levels lies the measure of the conductors merit, both as a musician and as an artist.1 Beating patterns Starting the sound: The preparatory beat

Green, Elizabeth A. H. The Modern Conductor (Prentice-Hall, Inc. USA, 1969)

At the beginning of any piece, before the first note is played, the conductor has to signal to his/her group his/her forthcoming intentions regarding speed, dynamics and style. This is the preparatory beat. The speed with which this beat is executed shows the coming tempo. It must be absolutely accurate rhythmically. The size of the preparatory beat gears itself to loudness of the coming dynamic. The style of the preparatory beat should set the mood of the music. There are various types of beating patterns, depending on the time signature. They are:

Simple Patterns: Time signatures of: 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4

Subdivision of the beat:

Subdivided three

Subdivided four

Material & exercises on beating patterns to be given

Beating style legato & staccato There are different ways of performing these articulations: from very short and sharply attacked notes to moderately detached playing; from a vigorous f staccato to a very gentle legato touch.

A conductor can make his/her players understand what kind of articulation he/she wants by his/her beat alone. Crescendo & diminuendo use of left hand / Sudden dynamic changes The technically developed left hand plays an important part in the overall musical result. While this hand should be able to beat time efficiently, it should not constantly mimic the rhythmic motions of the right hand. The left hand has its own eloquent language to speak but it must be trained for independent action. First, the left hand should be activated and deactivated without interrupting the rhythm of the right hand. The best tool for this is the giving of isolated cues. Next, the left hand can show a long, smooth crescendo diminuendo (up down) sequence while the right hand continues its time-beating. Finally, the left hand can shape the phrase, indicate a special effect to some groups of instruments, aid in the sustaining or cutting off of the sound, show toning down of dynamic in the accompanying instruments, encourage a solo voice to project and perform many other necessary tasks. It should be used to heighten the emotional content of the music through gestures that are rhythmically independent of the right hand. Accelerando & ritardando Accelerando: The feeling the conductor should have, when accelerating the orchestra, is actually like pushing or encouraging. Strong, sharp and precise beats are necessary, with short motions. The beat, therefore, must be short and whip-like. Ritardando: Slowing down causes less difficulty: the conductor simply broadens his/her beat. Once in a while, however, a ritardando may require a change in the beat-pattern.

Material & Exercices on Beating style legato & staccato Crescendo & diminuendo use of left hand Sudden dynamic changes Accelerando & ritardando to be given Study Work 1: Elgar Nancy to be given

Score preparation and analysis Formalising our approach to score analysis

What is the score? What should be our approach to analysis? What is the purpose of our analysis? We could say that our score is the equivalent of a map we use our map to plan our journey, always having the ultimate goal, our destination, in view. If we plan well, we know all the different routes we will take, all the links in the journey, the fluctuating conditions we will encounter on the way. If we dont plan well we may make mistakes, and find that the journey doesnt go as smoothly as we would wish, even if we do make it to our final destination. So if the score is our map, the ultimate goal a performance is our journey. We, as conductors, transform the score into an act through our own will, our own intentions. In order to do this with conviction, in order to possess this will, we must first of all possess the form. Analytical methods Traditional formal/harmonic analysis Nicolai Malko (1883-1961), Russian conductor and professor of conducting at Moscow

and St. Petersburg, proposed a system of phrasal analysis.

Rationalization of the score 2 The rationalization of the score is the mental approach to it before it turns into live sound. A work of visual art has its centre of interest, its moments of quiet and its peak of passion. Musically, all such things are delineated in the conductors score with the same forethought as that of the painter who gradually puts its picture on canvas. Phrasing Just as the forest is comprised of many single trees, so the music is divided into phrases the grouping of bars. Clarifying the measure grouping, counting it out by phrases from first measure to the last, often reveals hidden surprises to the conductor. Certainly it clarifies his understanding and his ability to memorize, especially in the difficult places where the conducting is dangerous. Analysis of every musical fragment of the score can be presented in a graphic scheme in which each motif, phrase, bar or group of bars show their relationship to one another. Such an analysis is very useful, especially in complicated music. Look at this example from Bartoks Concerto for Orchestra on the page attached.

From Elizabeth A. H. Green: Nicolai Malko The Conductor and his Baton, Prentice Hall 1975, pp. 14-17

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Material on Rationalization of the score to be given Study Work 2: Elgar Serenade for Strings Op. 20 (first movement) to be given Study Work 3: Strauss: Serenade for Wind Op. 7 to be given

Recommended reference: Del Mar, Norman Anatomy of the Orchestra (University of California Press USA, 1987) Leinsdorf, Eric The Composers Advocate (Yale University Press, 1981) Rudolf, Max The Grammar of Conducting (G. Schirmer USA, 1950 rev. 1969) Green, Elizabeth A. H. The Modern Conductor (Prentice-Hall, Inc. USA, 1969)

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