Tool used by conductor
s to gesture towards and cue an ensemble
conductors do not use batons as the idea of punctuating any choral passage with a baton is the antithesis
of the technique
usually taught to choral singers.
A baton is normally a length of plastic
, or wood
with a handle of absorbant wood (like bubinga) or cork
. The absorbancy is important due to the fact that conducting is a work out and your hands sweat, along with everything else. Nothing jars a conductor like having a baton slip from his hand during a raucous
Conductors use gesture
s with the baton in imply direction and interpretation within the ensemble. Herbert von Karajan
called it his "musical paintbrush." They are also used to cue performers of an approaching entrance.
Conducting, like any profession, has its dangers. Sir Georg Solti
is a perfect example of what can happen to the over-zealous conductor: he managed to injure himself twice with his baton during rather loud passages of two different pieces. Once, in his 60's, he hit his baton with his left hand while cue
ing and broke off half an inch of it under the skin. The second injury was during his first performance for the Queen
, at Covent Garden
. His arms began gesturing in such a wild manner, the poor man stabbed himself in the head with his baton, causing him to bleed
all over his tux and the score.
He was a trooper
though. He finished the opera