Hand Signals...

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by BrianT, Dec 4, 2007.

  1. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    Is there a standard set of gestures or hand signals that players in a small group can use to communicate with each other whilst playing? The sort of things that need to be communicated are "start again from the beginning", "go to the coda", "play a verse again", "play the chorus" and so on.

    Of course, it'd be possible to make some up, but I wondered if there was an existing repertoire of standard gestures...
  2. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Hand signals in music have been around since ancient times and comes under the name Cheironomy. Maybe googling that term may help you.
  3. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    That sounds a bit too much like geronimo to me.
    You're either making it up or a very sad man. :pig
  4. hellyfrost

    hellyfrost Member

    Naaah , he's just going for that banding boffin award this year!:clap:
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I'm sure the many conductors who visit this site will back me up ... :rolleyes:
  6. Blagger

    Blagger Member

    You ARE the MASTER ;)

    :clap: :clap: :clap:

    Cheironomy is the use of hand signals to direct vocal music performance. Whereas in modern conducting the notes are already specified in a written score, in cheironomy the hand signs indicate melodic curves and ornaments.

    Taken from wikipedia
  7. Blagger

    Blagger Member

    Dig the Pigs in Hats :cool:
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    :icon_biggrin: 'tis that time of year again ...

    Okay dokay, I've not found a handbook on hand signals and finger movements that are used as a standard for players directing ensembles from within but I found a nice concise history of Chieronomy (from the Greek word 'chier' for hand) and it's evolution through to conducting.


    It might even be that the practice of Chieronomy may have given rise to the invention of the stave. There was a medieval monk called Guido de Arezzo who helped monks learn the ever increasing numbers of gregorian chants by using a signal system based on neumatics and directed from positions on the hand (see here). He evolved this into the written staff and is subsequently recognised as the inventor of modern notation and the stave.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2007
  9. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    I appreciate the replies, but it hasn't really answered the question yet. It sounds as if cheironomy is an ancient art that developed into modern conducting, but as far as I know, modern conducting has no visual indicator for the musical directions I wondered about in the original post.

    For instance, it's easy to make a letter 'C' shape with finger and thumb - but this could be interpreted as go to the Coda or play the Chorus. I just wondered if there was a standard repertoire of gestures that unambiguously indicates the required directions.

    BTW, I read in Sting's book about the idea of indicating a key signature by pointing a number of fingers at the floor for flats, and at the ceiling for sharps - clever when you hear it, but I'd never have thought of it myself.
  10. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    To be honest Brian, when leading a group for carols, I always talk the players through what's going to happen before we start each piece, and despite the odd aberration, feel this is better than relying on hand signals.
  11. sevenhelz

    sevenhelz Active Member

    It's a weird one - I asked our conducting tutor about hand signals for repeats just the other day, and he said he wouldn't normally use any, unless it was to put up two fingers for second time, say. But I seem to recall several conductors I've had using a flat hand with the fingers horizontal and the thumb up (hard to describe but perhaps I can demonstrate some time ;) ) to indicate a repeat. Maybe there are conventions in certain areas, but nothing "official"?
    I would advise looking it up in the uni library, as I will undoubtedly do at some point.
  12. shaunbasstrom

    shaunbasstrom Member

    Hand signals? what you mean like in american base ball where they do the stupid hand codes? A bit daft, usally rely on the conductor or in a small setting the principle cornet. doing signals seems stupid to me. if it works for you though then go for it!
  13. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    The small group I'm thinking of has no conductor, and any of the musicians should be able to indicate to the others what they want to happen next.

    I wondered also, if the principal cornet you mentioned wanted to indicate whilst playing what should happen next what would he do? He'd need some sort of visual indication surely?
  14. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    Over at Barnstonworth we use distress flares.

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