Lightning Conductor

It has been a busy few days in the run up to Christmas what with shopping to be done, gifts to be wrapped and delivered etc and, of course, darling daughter arrived home from Japan on Thursday much to the delight of Mrs P and me.

The three of us had a trip into Manchester today to enjoy a meal and the Christmas atmosphere before heading to the Bridgewater Hall, home of the Hallé Orchestra, for their Christmas at the Movies concert.

It was quite an eclectic mix of music with everything from White Christmas to The Nightmare Before Christmas and Die Hard, the latter on the basis that it must appear somewhere on the tv listings at some point over the holiday.

But as I enjoyed the music, I couldn’t help wondering just how someone gets to be a conductor. I mean, the violinists, trombonists and even the bloke who dings the triangle have presumably studied their particular instrument since childhood, but surely conductors don’t have a similar career path?

It occurred to me that perhaps the conductor has proved him or herself adept on every instrument in the orchestra and having done so the other members bow to his superior skill and let him take charge. Certainly, they seem capable of completing the score once they’ve received the ready, set, go.

None of this is meant to cast doubts on Stephen Bell (above) who wielded the baton tonight. He was an energetic frontman in his musical guidance so perhaps the choice comes down to who is the best/worst dad dancer.

You can probably tell that my knowledge of serious music is even more limited than in other subjects and I really must find out more about this conducting lark.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

4 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 24th December 2016

    The technical term for “the bloke who dings the triangle” is percussionist. I am glad to have been of assistance in progressing your musical knowledge. As for becoming a conductor, it was once very easy. All you had to do was apply to your local bus company. Andre Previn usually worked the 378 Bramhall – Davenport – Stockport route.

  • rhymeswithplague 24th December 2016

    The first thing you must learn as a conductor is the proper way to move your arms, which happens to be in different directions according to the time signature in the music, which is also called the score. For example, beat 1 is always down, but beat 2 is to the right in 3/4 time but to the left in 4/4 and also in 6/8 time unless you’re “taking it in 2” in which case beat 2 is up. Not as simple as you might have thought, huh? The conductor is not up there just waving his or her arms about randomly. There is method in the madness. The conductor doesn’t have to know how to play all the instruments, but he or she must know how to read the composer’s instructions, which are usually in Italian and sometimes abbreviated. For example, soft and loud are piano and forte, respectively, but knowing how to interpret f, ff, fff, p, pp, and ppp is also important. There is a lot of other stuff too. To paraphrase Yoda, a piece of cake conducting is not.

  • rhymeswithplague 24th December 2016

    Oh, and you have to know when to slow down and when to slow up, and somehow make sure that everybody does it together. Lagging behind or running ahead of the others is not looked upon kindly.

  • rhymeswithplague 24th December 2016

    I meant slow down and speed up, of course. Silly me.


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