3. Vision

By the end of the investigation step, the conductor should know the piece to the point of being able to describe the most important features in terms of form, harmony, rhythm, orchestration, etc.

The next goal is to make decisions that will produce a planned and satisfying musical performance as well as to use the information to optimise the rehearsal process. The conductor must associate and connect the information learned in the investigation step to develop a cogent and effective interpretation. 

In essence, the conductor has to create a sort of roadmap of the piece that s/he studied. 

This roadmap can be subdivided into three spheres: cognitive sphere, psychomotor sphere and affective sphere.

The cognitive sphere deals directly with the knowledge acquired through the investigation step and includes, both implicitly and explicitly, ideas about how specific musical elements should be interpreted, for example: 

  • Attacks and releases
  • Staccato/legato
  • Shape direction and contour, of phrase
  • Direction (drive)
  • Articulation/Bowings
  • Ensemble blend and balance
  • Dynamics, intensity
  • Vibrato
  • Colour, textures/balances and blend
  • Climaxes
  • Important lines and motives
  • Rhythmic clarity
  • Pacing-tempo changes and tempo interrelationships between movements and sections
  • How do you want this piece to sound (inner concept)?
  • What techniques players need to use to produce the ideas of the composer 

The psychomotor sphere is structured around the notion of music communication through gesture and body language. In this sphere, the conductor should find ways of conveying the ideas he produced in the cognitive sphere using body language and gesture. Although choreographing the music should never be the objective of the conductor, practising certain gestures, complex meter and tempo changes, and other technical nuances is an essential part of preparing a score for rehearsal and performance. This psychomotor sphere should also include ideas and plans to help rehearse the piece, based on the knowledge the conductor has about the difficulty and the complexity of the music as well as the ability of the players and time available for rehearsal.

Finally, we have the affective sphere, where the conductor synthesises their interpretation and their vision of the composers’ intentions. The affective sphere deals with a persons’ sensitivity and life experiences. It deals with attitudes, values, feelings, dreams, etc., and how they can be connected to musical sound. In this sphere, the conductor polishes the aural image of the score they are studying. To create this, musical elements such as dynamics, orchestration, tension and relaxation, harmonic cadences or contrast, can be thought of as having emotional counterparts that can ultimately be transmitted to the players. 

In a very practical sense, the development of these three spheres is summarised in what we usually call score marking. Score markings are very personal and individual matter, but, in general, they serve as a reminder of our road map with information pertaining to the three spheres:  

  • Phrasings
  • Important lines
  • Cues
  • Dynamics
  • Meter changes
  • Tempo changes
  • Bowings/articulations
  • Legato, staccato, tenuto, retards, accel.
  • Attacks, releases
  • Blend and balances
  • Intonation
  • Misprints, wrong notes
  • Technical reminders for gestures or visual cues
  • Affective ideas to help attain the desired musical effect (emotions, attitudes, images – both poetic or real, etc.)
  • Rehearsal letters or numbers

After going through all these processes, the conductor is surely prepared to guide, coordinate and inspire an interpretation of the work, having acquired the knowledge and tools needed to navigate through rehearsals thanks to the roadmap he ultimately created. with the full consciousness that this roadmap can be adjusted between rehearsals and different performances to accommodate new information and new experiences.

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