Considerations of Lateral and Vertical Conducting Gestures in Evoking Efficient Choral Sound

Melissa L. Grady


A brief internet search for pictures of choral conductors will return a cornucopia of often very humorous results. Conductor arms are shown contorted into a huge variety of positions, from high to low, close to the body and reaching out, a multitude of hand shapes, and bodies that are relaxed or full of tension. These images lead us to ask a very important question: What does a nonverbal conductor gesture really do to the sound of the choir and the efficiency of singers output?
Choral conductors have often looked for the most efficient ways to produce their desired choral sound. Textbooks on conducting and research available in the realm reveal a multitude of positions on the most effective means of producing desired choral sound. An effective nonverbal gesture could show what the conductor intended in an instant rather than using seconds or minutes of valuable rehearsal time in a verbal explanation.
The present investigation analyzed trends in conducting textbooks and current conducting gesture research including three studies by the author specifically focused on lateral and vertical conducting gestures. This exploration sought to show the status of current research is in terms of nonverbal conductor gestures, analyze the trends in the research, and discuss future directions for research in nonverbal conducting gestures.

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