Orchestra Conductor Discussing What Conductors Actually Do On Stage

July 23, 2018


This is a video of orchestra conductor James Gaffigan doing his best to convince us conductors aren't just people on speed who like to gesticulate wildly in front of live music. And I almost believed him too, if I hadn't already seen my fair share of 'conductors' at jam band concerts. "Those were actual people on drugs." Great people, made lots of friends. "You left after the first song." I was terrified for my life.

Keep going for the video.

  • Redeemer

    Soundcloud rappers make a living from music and they don't play an instrument or even synthesize their own music. Who needs conductors when I've got access to a voice recorder on my phone and license-free beats from YouTube?

  • Vampire Mystery Guest Star

    I just thought it was a way to make a spastic feel good about himself. He makes a scene, they play music, he calms down, and everyone is applauding.

  • Any live performance has been rehearsed by each instrumentalist dozens or times, if not more to get the exact right sound. I doublt I'll ever be convinced that the real-time hand waving is doing anything impactful. This video just convinced me there is nothing more going on than I see... since conductors are radically different in their flailings around, I don't see how it lends any credibility to the need for a conductor in the first place. Who's to say my flailings wouldn't be better than yours?

  • Kazuka Roo

    Of course you don't see it. You're not part of an orchestra. It's one of those things outsiders will never understand unless they experience it.

  • Kanger

    Why do sports teams need managers?

  • I think maybe you mean the coach? The manager doesn't do anything on game day.

  • shashi

    You could say the same for many positions of leadership. Trouble is that to the untrained eye, its difficult to distinguish the pretenders from the maestros because its one of those jobs where if you do it well, people don't realise you've done anything at all

  • Jenness

    There is a reason everyone stares at the conductor. The rehearsals done dozens of times - are done with the conductor leading each group. A new conductor would create a different sound - or screw up the piece. The music has so many moving parts and the conductor has to pull out the preferred voice of every single section at any given moment to bring what the composer wanted the audience to hear.

    Take clarinets. 1st chair (and 1st parts if there is one than one) might be playing the melody at the highest octave range, the clarinetists 3-7 might play the 2nd part which is a combo of melody and accompaniment, and then the more you have they are playing different octaves - and different songs.

    Every single section is like that and the music fluctuates and all the players watch the conductor for their cues.

    They train with a certain conductor - and they have to learn each conductor's personality. Kind of like how the same football team will perform differently with different coaches. Some better than others.

  • The_Wretched

    The bassoonist is off-sides. 5 yard penalty!

  • The_Wretched

    I mostly watched this while imagining him in the rick and Morty sleeping bag.

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