Conducting workshop - why so little interest?

Have you ever been to a conducting workshop, David? I have - the one run by Russell Gray, with my band, and I can assure you that the improvement in the participants was clearly audible.

MTA - I should point out that, before the workshop, the band were told by our MD that, in order to help the participants, and show them where they were getting it right or wrong, that they should play exactly as each conductor told them to play, even if they felt it was wrong - and leave it to Russell to explain to the participant how he or she should change their conducting to get a better performance from the band.
I get that, but it is when someone other than the Conductor gets it wrong which sorts out the situationally aware conductors from the performing penguins. Like when a soloist come in a bar late, due to nerves when he has done it twenty times perfectly previously, or maybe is sight reading as the regular player has decided he would rather holiday in Tampa Florida or take his wife out to celebrate her birthday than play at the Silver Threads Christmas party.

From shared Concerts the impression that I gain is that Choir Conductors don’t beat strick time. To me the gestures of Choir Conductors are more about the relative timing, rhythm and articulation of collective vocal expression in unison than providing a beat upon which the more complex music of Brass Bands is built by individual and indepentantly acting players. When the Band and Choir play together you’re typically OK if the Band is conducted in its normal way ‘cause the Band’s music provides the musical framework which guides and supports what the Choir add (just like when they sing along to a Piano).
I think that sums it up nicely, imagine trying to get people who don't read music to learn the Alto or Tenor parts. Its where modern "Pop" singers out perform their predecessors, taking a tune with just a drum beat without a voice lead accompaniment and being in tune when the (tuned) accompaniment chimes in.
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Is there a shortage of conductors? I dont think there is but there could well become a time in the near future when there could be if the new generation of players dont want to step into the middle
True, though I'm not sure this is really the case?

For starters, there are plenty of excellent younger conductors taking bands at all levels - I've known conductors in their 20's taking bands from 4th section right up to nationally recognized bands in the championship section (sometimes as resident conductors, though by no means always).

Beyond that, there's no saying that new conductors necessarily have to be young conductors - if, for example, noone ever moved into conducting until they were 50+, then it would appear that we were always stuck in the past with "old" conductors, but it wouldn't be the same old conductors, it would be a revolving door of players deciding to conduct instead in middle-age (which is largely what is happening, so far as I can see?).
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
I'd say the lion's share of what they were getting from Russell was exactly what you've described - "how to relay ideas to the band". Bear in mind this is my opinion as an outside observer, so don't take it as gospel - but it appeared to me that what Russell was getting across to them was how to communicate with the band, and what would either help or hinder that communication, so that the band understood the overall interpretation that each conductor was aiming for, and could then play the piece accordingly. And, as I mentioned above, I could really hear the difference between the 'before and after' versions!

PS - if either Russell or any of the participants would like to add to or correct my impressions, please do so!

With best regards,

Jack
Not quite the same (as I wasn't present) and it goes without saying really... Russell is an exceptional communicator and he finds ways to portray an incredible amount of information in simple phrases and metaphors - a single line can lead to drastic change.

(And to top off, a really nice chap too - thoroughly enjoyed working with him leading up to Wychavon contest and would love to do so again!)
 
Being of sound mind (I hope) but of advanced years, during rehearsals in my position with the basses at the back of the band, when some conductors restart us at a point in the middle of a piece I fail to hear where to start so I fail to join in until I figure out where everybody is. Hopefully the conductors' school tells new conductors to speak up.
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
Its where modern "Pop" singers out perform their predecessors, taking a tune with just a drum beat without a voice lead accompaniment and being in tune when the (tuned) accompaniment chimes in.
From what I've read, David, though modern singers may appear to be able to hold pitch very accurately, the reality is that the sound engineers have equipment which can correct any notes sung off pitch.

Even worse, the range of notes used by modern singers has been steadily shrinking for years - making their job far easier than it used to be. The video I've linked to, below, explains that when people my age say that modern pop music isn't as good as the old stuff, we aren't just wallowing in unjustified nostalgia - it really was better, and the presenter of the video shows the evidence to back it up.

It appears that the music industry is ripe for another revolution. By the late 1940s - early 1950s, music publishers had staff writers who could churn out a song to order, on any subject you wanted, and music agents had singers who could sing whatever you put in front of them - but it all sounded monotonously samey. Then along came rock and roll, and skiffle - which blew Tin Pan Alley apart! But the music business establishment slowly pulled the teeth of the R & R rebels . . . and along came Buddy Holly, whose band stood out like a lighthouse amongst a sea of small torches!

(considering how many major bands, such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were lavish in their praise of Holly, and how much they had been influenced by him, it's amazing to realise that from the time Holly had his first hit until his death was only 18 months! It's a tragedy when you think what music he could have made if he'd lived long enough to get the benefit of a fully miked-up band with multi track recorders and stereo sound)

The Beatles, the Stones, The Beach Boys, the Tamla Motown bands, were slowly swamped by Tin Pan Alley's next fightback - bubblegum rock; bland songs, blandly produced, and done by session singers and session musicians who were like latter-day equivalents of those pub musicians from my childhood, who could say "If you can hum it, I can play it" - and they could; but everything they played sounded the same . . . so came the next revolution - punk!

Now, I hope we're on the verge of yet another revolution in pop music, as the current lot has been reduced to a mass-produced formula - which is why, I suspect, modern acts put so much effort into the visual part of their performance; it's an attempt to distract the audiences from how samey the music is. Did you you know that the great majority of records in the Top 100 over the last decade have been written by just TWO writers?
 
From what I've read, David, though modern singers may appear to be able to hold pitch very accurately, the reality is that the sound engineers have equipment which can correct any notes sung off pitch.

Even worse, the range of notes used by modern singers has been steadily shrinking for years - making their job far easier than it used to be. The video I've linked to, below, explains that when people my age say that modern pop music isn't as good as the old stuff, we aren't just wallowing in unjustified nostalgia - it really was better, and the presenter of the video shows the evidence to back it up.

It appears that the music industry is ripe for another revolution. By the late 1940s - early 1950s, music publishers had staff writers who could churn out a song to order, on any subject you wanted, and music agents had singers who could sing whatever you put in front of them - but it all sounded monotonously samey. Then along came rock and roll, and skiffle - which blew Tin Pan Alley apart! But the music business establishment slowly pulled the teeth of the R & R rebels . . . and along came Buddy Holly, whose band stood out like a lighthouse amongst a sea of small torches!

(considering how many major bands, such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were lavish in their praise of Holly, and how much they had been influenced by him, it's amazing to realise that from the time Holly had his first hit until his death was only 18 months! It's a tragedy when you think what music he could have made if he'd lived long enough to get the benefit of a fully miked-up band with multi track recorders and stereo sound)

The Beatles, the Stones, The Beach Boys, the Tamla Motown bands, were slowly swamped by Tin Pan Alley's next fightback - bubblegum rock; bland songs, blandly produced, and done by session singers and session musicians who were like latter-day equivalents of those pub musicians from my childhood, who could say "If you can hum it, I can play it" - and they could; but everything they played sounded the same . . . so came the next revolution - punk!

Now, I hope we're on the verge of yet another revolution in pop music, as the current lot has been reduced to a mass-produced formula - which is why, I suspect, modern acts put so much effort into the visual part of their performance; it's an attempt to distract the audiences from how samey the music is. Did you you know that the great majority of records in the Top 100 over the last decade have been written by just TWO writers?
Anyway, about this workshop ........?
 

4th Cornet

Well-Known Member
Anyway, about this workshop ........?
From what I've read, David, though modern singers may appear to be able to hold pitch very accurately, the reality is that the sound engineers have equipment which can correct any notes sung off pitch.

Even worse, the range of notes used by modern singers has been steadily shrinking for years - making their job far easier than it used to be. The video I've linked to, below, explains that when people my age say that modern pop music isn't as good as the old stuff, we aren't just wallowing in unjustified nostalgia - it really was better, and the presenter of the video shows the evidence to back it up.

It appears that the music industry is ripe for another revolution. By the late 1940s - early 1950s, music publishers had staff writers who could churn out a song to order, on any subject you wanted, and music agents had singers who could sing whatever you put in front of them - but it all sounded monotonously samey. Then along came rock and roll, and skiffle - which blew Tin Pan Alley apart! But the music business establishment slowly pulled the teeth of the R & R rebels . . . and along came Buddy Holly, whose band stood out like a lighthouse amongst a sea of small torches!

(considering how many major bands, such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were lavish in their praise of Holly, and how much they had been influenced by him, it's amazing to realise that from the time Holly had his first hit until his death was only 18 months! It's a tragedy when you think what music he could have made if he'd lived long enough to get the benefit of a fully miked-up band with multi track recorders and stereo sound)

The Beatles, the Stones, The Beach Boys, the Tamla Motown bands, were slowly swamped by Tin Pan Alley's next fightback - bubblegum rock; bland songs, blandly produced, and done by session singers and session musicians who were like latter-day equivalents of those pub musicians from my childhood, who could say "If you can hum it, I can play it" - and they could; but everything they played sounded the same . . . so came the next revolution - punk!

Now, I hope we're on the verge of yet another revolution in pop music, as the current lot has been reduced to a mass-produced formula - which is why, I suspect, modern acts put so much effort into the visual part of their performance; it's an attempt to distract the audiences from how samey the music is. Did you you know that the great majority of records in the Top 100 over the last decade have been written by just TWO writers?
Pop songs sell to the evolving target audience and just because it's not to everyone's taste, it doesn't mean that the talent of those involved is any less that their predecessors.
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Pop songs sell to the evolving target audience and just because it's not to everyone's taste, it doesn't mean that the talent of those involved is any less that their predecessors.
If they could hold a note straight or bring out a cover version that doesn't absolutely butcher the original I might be inclined to agree... In truth, I think it's all dumbed down, written to a formula for the sole purpose of selling - the present generation is, if anything, even more rigid and straightjacketed than the predecessors it loves to lambast so, and it's music is no exception to this
 
We oldies used to get our music through radio and records so we are accustomed to hearing music through our ears. Most of today's young whippersnappers see music with their eyes and it helps if the performers make some kind of rhythmic noise.
 

4th Cornet

Well-Known Member
We oldies used to get our music through radio and records so we are accustomed to hearing music through our ears. Most of today's young whippersnappers see music with their eyes and it helps if the performers make some kind of rhythmic noise.
That's such an uninformed and biggotted view.
If you happen to go outside your house from time to time, you will see young people listening to music without any visual content whatsoever. We're in an age where listening to music has never been more accessible nor so highly consumed.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
That's such an uninformed and biggotted view.
If you happen to go outside your house from time to time, you will see young people listening to music without any visual content whatsoever. We're in an age where listening to music has never been more accessible nor so highly consumed.
I believe that I see where you are coming from and why you might hold that view, however my same comment could apply to what Raymond has said too. IMHO, what we once thought of as ‘pop music’ has changed in that at one time it was basically an auditory experience and now the visual element in performances has to be excellent too in order for a ‘song’ to sell in volume. That change and shift in emphasis has happened slowly and over decades. ‘Songs’ certainly don’t have to be heard with their visual part but without it part of the performance is lost - a bit like listening in Mono rather than Stereo. When I see young people in my own family ‘listening’ to ‘pop music’ it seems not unusual for them to be watching as well as hearing. YMMV.

Edit. I kind of hope that the thread can return towards something more central to Conducting. From what I see around me locally the biggest threat to music making at 4th section and Community Band level is the severe lack of Conductors and of those that are working at that level many are poor. Players are in short supply too, but they can be found and developed by the Band if there is a sufficiently good Conductor around which to build the Band.

Seasons greetings to all.
 
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Jack E

Well-Known Member
Pop songs sell to the evolving target audience and just because it's not to everyone's taste, it doesn't mean that the talent of those involved is any less that their predecessors.
Have you looked at the video I posted a link for, 4th Cornet?

Also, I didn't say that modern singers are less talented than their predecessors; I said "the range of notes used by modern singers has been steadily shrinking for years - making their job far easier than it used to be", which isn't the same thing at all. I'm quite that some of them could do a good job with far more demanding scores than they are currently given, and do it without the help of pitch correcting systems which are now in use - but the very fact that the musical ranges have been reduced (as proven by the evidence shown on the video) and pitch correcting systems have been employed (and I doubt they are cheap!) suggests that a significant number of current pop singers do need that help.
 

Queeg2000

Active Member
To say that singers need to use digital effects is a tad harsh. They have them available, why not use them?

We have and use a vast array of mutes to alter our sound, if a mute were available at a reasonable cost that would automatically correct intonation or split notes, and were legal to use in competitions, we would all be using them. Not because we intend to play badly but because we all make mistakes and if another band is using it everyone needs to to have any hope of competing.

You don't disconnect your cars airbags because you don't intend to crash so why would you choose not to use autotune even though you can sing in tune?
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
You don't disconnect your cars airbags because you don't intend to crash so why would you choose not to use autotune even though you can sing in tune?
Because you can hear that autotune at work and it sounds awful... In a recording environment where you've got basically as many takes as you need, there's no reason to use it - unless these modern pop singers arent as capable as their forebears (which I think in many cases is fairly obvious).
 

4th Cornet

Well-Known Member
Have you looked at the video I posted a link for, 4th Cornet?

Also, I didn't say that modern singers are less talented than their predecessors; I said "the range of notes used by modern singers has been steadily shrinking for years - making their job far easier than it used to be", which isn't the same thing at all. I'm quite that some of them could do a good job with far more demanding scores than they are currently given, and do it without the help of pitch correcting systems which are now in use - but the very fact that the musical ranges have been reduced (as proven by the evidence shown on the video) and pitch correcting systems have been employed (and I doubt they are cheap!) suggests that a significant number of current pop singers do need that help.
I stopped watching the video at the point that the presenter stated his preference was for mid-last century music and that science had proven it was better then. Both these statements demonstrate that the rest of the presentation would be heavily biased.

Musical genres have widened and separated over the years which is why the ranges have changed. Pop songs of old had roots in classical arias and opera where a large range is the norm. Pop genres have evolved far away from this and large ranges would sound just odd.
 
and do it without the help of pitch correcting systems which are now in use - but the very fact that the musical ranges have been reduced (as proven by the evidence shown on the video) and pitch correcting systems have been employed (and I doubt they are cheap!) suggests that a significant number of current pop singers do need that help.
I wonder if these systems are good enough to weld on to a Baritone bell end !
 
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