4. Beyond the Baton: The Conductor’s Hidden Skills

Although the job title ‘conductor’ is a comparatively modern invention, the idea of one musician leading others through a performance goes back hundreds of years. Live musical performances exist only in time, therefore the challenge of performing in a group, especially a large group, is to coordinate sound through time. Even Shakespeare notes ‘…how sour sweet music is / when time is broke and no proportion kept’ (Richard II, Act V, sc. V)

Figure 4.1 The Geese Book, Nuremberg, 1503-1510. A liturgical book for the parish of St. Lorenz.

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