Orchestral Conducting

If a guy was a really inept conductor, how would we the audience ever know it? (Outside of the fact that if he weren’t any good, he wouldn’t be up there in the first place).


You would notice it, but you wouldn’t think it was his problem. Sections of the orchestra become obviously “lost” and lose the beat, sometimes resulting in unintended syncopation that doesn’t sound good. You hear no dynamic contrast; if the conductor forgets to cue a section, they may miss an important entrance, etc.

Don’t think that an inept conductor “wouldn’t be up there in the first place.” You’d be surprised by who they give those music degrees to…

Answered well above, and in more detail here: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=33076 and here: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=41939

We in the orchestra refer to the inept ones as “diodes”.


As a veteran of the professional orchestra trenches, I can tell you that the audience can almost never tell if the conductor sucks. I have seen instances where the conductor has caused major train wrecks and the reviewer consistently blames the orchestra (the reviewer is usually an idiot). Big league orchestras frequently find themselves confronted by inept conductors (see “diodes” above). Standard protocol is for the players to raise their stands, lower their heads, and fasten their seatbelts. Usually the orchestra will come out relatively unscathed, but if bad things happen, you can be assured they will get the blame.