quinta-feira, 30 de agosto de 2007


Autor: Maestro Navarro Lara

Introductory Lesson

The figure of the orchestra conductor originated by the middle of the XVIII century as an answer to a more and more imperious necessity: putting a multiplicity of sounds in order while providing a locus of interpretation that the orchestra was unable to provide for itself.
Although in principle the conductor was then concerned principally with maintaining a rhythmically united performance by the orchestra, the conductor today not only assumes this responsibility, but also takes charge of controlling all the general and organic aspects of the musical art – including all the abstract and spiritual factors that so directly influence the performance.
In our contemporary stage of this history, we are witnessing the death of music as an art and its birth as a business that generates thousands of millions of dollars. Hundreds of humbugs, baton in hand, parade before our concert halls and invade the market of the great record companies. They are endorsed by gigantic marketing campaigns, thanks to the support of the "big mafias" to which everything is now accountable. A good orchestra conducted by a terrible conductor will always sound well; a mediocre orchestra conducted by a good conductor will always sound bad. But when a good orchestra is conducted by a great Maestro, then and only then the miracle of the music takes place and, finally, everything makes sense. The problem is that the ends of record companies and orchestra managements are more commercial than artistic.
Fortunately, at the present time we have the good fortune of having in existence a few of the great Maestros who, being strangers to mere practicality, have the supreme talent of shaping their interpretations into manifestations of God. Thanks to them, it is possible still to believe in the art.
It is very difficult to predict what will happen for us in the future. I have the impression that the art of conducting is becoming a mere routine occupation in which professional practitioners seem to have emerged in series from a factory assembly-line. I wish that the next generations of conductors will have the integrity of healthy artists who have learned how to find the way of art, and that they will be inspired always by the magical essence of music, understood as the maximum expression of the momentous and of the Divine.
The conductor must be, mainly, a musician of great talent, a possessor of wide and deep musical knowledge from solfeggio to composition, including all the other related disciplines of the art of sound. Also, the conductor should be distinguished with a talent for interpretation as one of his main qualities. To be steeped in the will of the composer until the essence of the musical work is reached, and so to transmit it to others in all its fullness - this is one of the main and indispensable requirements that conducting demands.
Escape from the mediocrity of lamentable and anarchical interpretations, the product of the ignorance and the recklessness of the above-mentioned "humbugs" who transgress against the intrinsic laws of music as an art, the intellectual foundation without which their existence is unimportant.
On the other hand, the Conductor must enjoy a vast general culture, having knowledge of human reality in all its dimensions. Philosophy, physics, mathematics, linguistics, etc.: these are the areas of the human knowledge that the conductor should possess and dominate.
But, besides all this, the conductor should have the benefit of a great personality, without which nothing can be done.
At the moment of getting on the podium, the conductor becomes the focus of attention for the orchestra and for the public. In order to be convincing in this role, he needs not only to have a great technique, but also to radiate a strong and almost magical personality. An expression, a look, the minor insinuation, the most insignificant explanation, achieves a different response from the orchestra and the public depending on who makes it.
If the conductor has an outstanding personality, all will accept and understand him immediately; but, on the contrary, if the conductor is poor of spirit, no instruction will be believable and acceptable.
Yet, the conductor must also be a humble person. He should be very respectful of the will of the composer as captured in the score; he should understand perfectly the signs that are contained in the score, as well as those that the composer did not expressly write. "To know how to read between lines," is one of his primary capacities. He should also remember that it is the orchestra, a multiplicity of sensitive souls, that produces the sound and that without the orchestra he can make nothing. During rehearsal time, he must make use of psychology as well as a sincere humanity.
The main task is MAKING MUSIC – that is to say, to elevate in perfect testimony toward the Divine those souls that participate with him in the fascinating experience of the miracle of the sound.
Now, we will analyze different aspects on the art of conducting regarding the general, physical, mental, abstract and spiritual techniques that the conductor must use in order to express his ideas. All these techniques are valid as much for orchestral conducting as for choir and band, etc. One and the same technique may be accommodated to the characteristics of any sound group to be conducted.
It is necessary to conceive of technique as a means to reach specific results. All and each one of the expressions and the actions of the conductor are made in order to communicate with the orchestra, and will be motivated and impelled by and for the sake of the essence of the Music. A technique lacking objective and musical foundation will be ineffective.
The conductor’s expressions must be generated in his own being and respond to the characteristics of the music that he intends to produce with their execution. All of the expressions and techniques that are described in the following may serve only for the purpose of general orientation. These expressions and techniques, applied in each concrete musical case, keeping in mind the immense diversity of elements that participate in musical speech, will be those that conform to a true technique of conducting.

The body position should be comfortable, and at the same time must be stable and sure. Stand with the legs open about seventy centimeters and the knees slightly bent; the back should be straight, avoiding as much as possible the frequent slumping to which we are accustomed. The neck should be relaxed, but erect. (A good method of checking that the spinal column is straight is to stand against the wall; the whole surface of the back should be in contact with the wall).
In the position just described, two different forces are at work:
1. Gravity’s force: this subjects us to the Earth, providing security and balance; this force acts from the waist down.
2. Up force: this maintains us erect, producing in us a positive sensation of dominance, eloquence and trust; this force acts from the waist up.

In conducting, we should move as little as possible, since one of the principles that we must keep in mind is that we always AVOID ALL SUPERFLUOUS OR UNNECESSARY MOVEMENT.
In spite of this, many occasions require us to move slightly. With a big orchestra extending to all sides of the stage, it will be necessary to gesture toward a specific section. In such a case, it is usually sufficient to move with a simple turn of the waist; even if this is not enough, always maintain one of the two feet in the beginning position.
The arms must be lifted up so that all of the musicians of the orchestra can see them without difficulty and, also, where the conductor can express his instructions without difficulty. We will refer to this as the ACTION LEVEL. (Often, a correct position of the podium could be decisive in enabling a correct position of the arms).
The arm will form an angle of 45º approximately with the body. (This angle will change, as detailed later).
The forearms will remain parallel to the line of the floor, or will form a slight upward angle with it. (This angle will also vary.)
The wrists will remain flexible, as if made of a tense elastic rubber; neither stiffen them nor leave them too loose.
The hands will remain parallel to the floor or form a slight upward angle; they will be placed in a natural position as a mere continuation of the forearm. (Never show the palms of the hands to the orchestra unless it is for a justified reason.)
Another thing to remember is this: NEVER MOVE OR LIFT THE SHOULDERS; on the contrary, they will remain relaxed, and stationary as if a great weight forces them to stay down.
It is very important that your posture should be balanced and stable.
Note. The position of the body should be, above all, natural; an uncomfortable or artificial posture should be corrected as soon as possible.
Normally, the conductor is accustomed to the help of a baton in order to conduct. It becomes a continuation of the arm, amplifying its expressions considerably, and reducing vastly the fatigue of the arms. But on the other hand, it is necessary to keep in mind that the baton creates certain rigidity which is not very appropriate when we are conducting delicate passages of a "Cantabile" character; also, we should remember that with the baton we lose the ability of gesticulating with the fingers. (I recommend that the student train in conducting with and without baton)
How to Seize the Baton.
The baton will measure between thirty and fifty centimeters of length. It should be made of a light material and will taper to the tip; at the lower end a small handle, possibly of cork, will be used like a hilt. The baton should be of a color that is distinguished well and that contrasts sharply with the handle.
Seize the baton like a hammer or a flyswatter: the handle will be laying in the palm of your hand and the bar will be held between the yolk of the thumb, and the first articulation of the index finger; the others fingers will remain doubled around the bar. The palm of the hand will point toward the floor. The tip of the baton will point toward the front, lightly inclined toward the left and up.
The baton is seized preferably with the right hand; however, those conductors that are left-handed need not doubt themselves for a moment for conducting with the left.

The above-advised way of holding the baton is not the only possible way; there are many other variants and subtleties that we will adopt as required. The important point to keep in mind is that ANY POSITION OR EXPRESSION ADOPTED MUST BE NATURAL AND CONFORTABLE. If conducting without baton, the hands will place the fingers together, extended and lightly curved in the following form:
The Independence of Both Hands
Common sense is a very desirable virtue which, in the Art of Conducting, is of incalculable value. If we are able to transmit concrete and precise information with one hand, nothing is then served if the movements of the other hand imitates it. It is more logical that, instead of being a mirror, the other hand should be an active organism, able to contribute new and useful elements that enrich the resulting sound immensely.
A single hand should suffice to transmit to the orchestra all of the information that it needs; the other hand should be willing to execute any other movement that contributes something new to the communication or that it is necessary in order to assure the best understanding between conductor and orchestra. Before using it, be sure that its intervention contributes something new and enhancing; if it is not so, it is preferable that the left hand remain relaxed and rest on the side of the body.
In this way, the left hand (or the right hand in the left-handled) will put the sound dynamic in relief, the tension, the articulation, cues, and phrasing; it will mark any outstanding rhythm clearly, give cues simultaneously with the right or independent of it, control the balance of the sound planes, assist and control any unexpected element - the left hand must never be a mere reflection of the right.
Whenever a conductor comes to a passage where it is important to make indications to the orchestra that are firm and bold, and therefore he thinks himself justified to move both hands identically, it is, despite the justification, a shameless exaggeration.
Having the opportunity of seeing the Maestro Carlos Kleiber makes for a great lesson on the independence of the hands and on the importance of the left hand.
Exercises: Introductory Lesson
Do these exercices, and then send email with your answers, remarks, and thoughts about this lesson, to franav@ari.es
If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask for help.
1. Place yourself in front of a mirror, or record yourself on a video-camera, and check to see that your position is correct – as described in the lesson.
2. Buy a white baton, rigid, light, and with one small handle of cork at one end; hold it as described in the lesson. Execute different movements and observe how it feels.
3. Execute different movements with the hands; for example: make circles with the right hand and with the other touch repeatedly your head, your nose, and your chin, etc.
4. Go to a concert, or see a video-taped performance, and write a short essay about the various expressions executed by the conductor, indicating what could be the sense of each one of them.
a) At your request, we have a videotape for you to see Maestro Navarro Lara making all of the gestures, techniques, exercises, and movements, etc. that are explained in this course. The price of this videotape is $50 (USD).
b) Those students with a video camera can make a record of their progressive exercises and send them by mail in VHS format. Maestro Navarro Lara will review the tapes and will correct the shortcomings of the conducting that are revealed on them.

Um comentário:

Dona Banana com Canela disse...

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