THEORY ON TECHNIQUE OF CONDUCTING GIVEN IN SIENA by Sergiu Celibidache DURING THE YEARS 1960-1963
Mr. Krotxa: Good afternoon "Maestro" Celibidache
CELIBIDACHE: Good afternoon
Mr. Krotxa: This interview is going to be somewhat peculiar, and I am going to ask about the technique of conducting that you use but not about the phenomenology that so much you love. It will be a difficult task for you because the technique comes from the music itself. I've been told you have a wonderful technique that works miracles.
CELIBIDACHE: Ha, ha, ha, that it does wonders ... What is certain is that it is a very effective ... but the technique is only a tool, which is always at the service of music. The nature of music, sound, yes it is a true miracle. And it will not be difficult to speak about the technique because to teach I have systematized a series of movements, which, obviously taken out of context, we use in the conducting of music.
Mr. Krotxa: Tell me a little of the Orchestra
CELIBIDACHE: It's a bit difficult to talk about something as complex as the orchestra in an interview like this but I will try to get the idea. The term orchestra, refers to a type of group of musicians coming together to play a musical work.Depending on the orchestra, the group needs not the conductor. In case that need, it becomes the "instrument" of the conductor, who works under him. You could do a thesis on the complex instrument is the orchestra, but I guess it's not your intention, and to do more enjoyable the interview, I'll tell you what I always tell my students the first day they come into contact with this speciality that is the conducting. I say that rather than orchestral conducting, should be called musical conducting as the preparation that has a conductor allows him/her to conduct any group which does not have to be only a symphony orchestra. Also let them know of the existence of an orchestra, "the celestial symphony orchestra." Heaven, because it is an idealization of an orchestra that is in our head. That orchestra is an orchestra that never makes mistakes is the only one that plays perfect, where everything is balanced. The rest of the orchestra, the real, can approach the heavenly, but will never be perfect. The conductor has the idealization of the score and listening on his/her head touched by the celestial symphony orchestra, which is never wrong, where everything is tuned, balanced whole. I repeat that the orchestra is the most imperfect, due to technical problems of each instrument (pitch, construction, etc), But also, these instruments are played by people who have nothing to perfect and to top it, the ultimate in responsibility, the conductor, is not perfect
Mr. Krotxa: Tell me what is the role of the conductor?
CELIBIDACHE: The role of the conductor, is to join in a single criterion, him/her, different ways of thinking, wills and personalities of each and every one of the members of the orchestra.
Mr. Krotxa: How does the need for the figure of the conductor?
CELIBIDACHE: Of course, it has always needed someone to take the work of unifying the group. But is in the romanticism when becomes necessary the figure of the conductor, as we know it today. The expansion of the orchestra and the evolution of music, brings many difficulties in interpretation. It makes this figure of the conductor arises as a performer. Since then the technique or the conductor is in constant evolution. The conductor, as a performer, was the last to appear in the history of music.
Mr. Krotxa: I would like to focus this interview on everything related to technique and theory of technique. Where do we get started?
CELIBIDACHE: There are two premises that serve to establish the principles of all this technique. One is the the continuity of movement, and the other the proportions. about proportions I will speak later and about of the continuity of movement, we should not stop, but when the music stops.
Mr. Krotxa: But, how does the conductor organizes his movements? it's okay to be continuous but will have to follow some way
CELIBIDACHE: Mr. Krotxa don't rush, I will gradually revealed you the secrets of this technique. In this technique, all the music we conduct through some "figures", which we call "basic figures" that mark the way, the way of the continuous movement and organize it. These figures represent the different beats, and are due to the nature and organization in bars of the weak and strong pulses of music, expressed through gesture.
Mr. Krotxa: What is the nature of the basic figures?
CELIBIDACHE: Geometric, and identify with the bars of 4,3,2,1 pulses or their derivatives
Mr. Krotxa: What are those figures that you use in this technique?
CELIBIDACHE: The cross, the triangle and the vertical line. In this technique, all bars for rare or complicated they may be, will be located or come from any of these basic figures. All basic figures, are arranged on an imaginary line, which we call "line of inflection."
Mr. Krotxa: What is the line of inflection?
CELIBIDACHE: It is an imaginary line, straight, horizontal, which we drew up to the starting position. The conductor beats the imaginary line in a called imaginary points that we call essential points and are arranged along the line. Thus, all essential points, are beaten at the same height and on the same imaginary line. Thus, we conclude that from an essential point to another, the arm up and down to beat the next point, until to complete the cycle of essential points that has the basic figure
Mr. Krotxa: You have spoken about the initial position, could you explain what it is?
CELIBIDACHE: The initial position is the position taken by the director to start running, before to beat the upbeat. This position has to be natural, relaxed and controlled. Psychologically has to demonstrates Clearly that it is going to be doing what the conductor wants. Through this position we focus the attention of the orchestra.
Mr. Krotxa: You mentioned upbeat. Later I will ask about it, but before proceeding with the basic figures tell me what is an upbeat
CELIBIDACHE: To not use words that I have not yet mentioned, and since we are not talking about the upbeat, I will tell you withoutfurther events that the upbeat is the gesture that the conductor does to tell the musicians, what's next in music.
Mr. Krotxa: Returning to the initial position, what must do the conductor to be in that position?
CELIBIDACHE: Imagine leaving your arms relaxed, dead.
Mr. Krotxa: What are you doing maestro! This put me in a commitment!
CELIBIDACHE: No!, I'm putting you in the initial position.Relax! leave the arms dead. You will notice that forms a small arch between the arm and forearm. Each person has a natural arch. Now follow with the dead arms, I'll take your hand and I'll pull them slightly towards me(the teacher in front of me). Nooooo! intervene! Leave them dead! That's it! have you seen? I pulled them slightly toward me and I have placed the forearm parallel to the floor with your palms facing down, without tilting.
Mr. Krotxa: Oh my God, if my mum see me, as director, with the big Celibidache... when I sang at home, she said to me that mine was not music, unfortunately I was not born for the music ...
Mr. Krotxa: Always the initial position is like this ?
CELIBIDACHE: Basically yes, then the position has to adjust to the music that will performance. For example, the initial position of Mendelssohn's "Night summer Dream" to reflect the music that begins with flutes, very up, we slightly ascend the starting position. And otherwise Schubert's "Unfinished", which begins with cellos and basses going to the deep.
Mr. Krotxa: how is the movement of the arms?
CELIBIDACHE: Like I said earlier that the movement is continuous. In this technique you need to know to control the weight of the arm. Sometimes you have to intervene and other times not to do more force than necessary to keep the arm in the position you want. The movement always out frorm the arm, this pull the forearm and this pull the hand.
Mr. Krotxa: Now, I need to return the issue of basic figures. How are these essential points arranged along an imaginary line?
CELIBIDACHE: Each basic figure for their own anatomy, corresponds to a specific organization of essential points on the imaginary line.Thus, 2,1,4,3 corresponds to the cross, the triangle 1,3,2 which are arranged along an imaginary line, and vertical figure 1 and 2 on the same point.
Mr. Krotxa: Do these points are the same distance between them?
CELIBIDACHE: Among them, yes, but are ordered such that 1 to 2 of 2 to 3 and 3 to 4, there is not the same distance. However, it has to be at the same time from one point to another. This forces the arm to not going at the same speed from one point to another of the basic figure.
Mr. Krotxa: And how do you get that?
CELIBIDACHE: With lots of practice. To achieve this it is advisable to practice the exercises of continuity of motion, moving at the samespeed arms frome down to up in a parallel movement of the arms and the movement born from the arm.
Mr. Krotxa: What advantages does the fact that the essentials points of the basic figures are on an imaginary line?
CELIBIDACHE: If all the essentials points of the basic figures are in the same height above an imaginary line, that imaginary line can be transported up and down and in depth, using it as a means of expression.
Mr. Krotxa: So is there a place where develop these gestures?
CELIBIDACHE: Obviously! the area in which develops all the gestures of the conductor, we call "space euphonious" is something that each person has and is not equal for all, depends on the height you have, width, length of the arms ... then every sound has a particular position in these space that is the center euphonious. Moving the line of inflection that is established to the center height euphonious as the music is playing, we can express the phrasing of the same with the gesture.
Mr. Krotxa: You mean, the center euphonious, is the rightful place of music in that space euphonious, and that is changing as the music, the conductor represents or reflects with his gesture in that space by moving the imaginary line?
CELIBIDACHE: Good lord Krotxa, I see you following me! Not bad for an outsider to this field, do not you like to be my student? I can do miracles
Mr. Krotxa: Thank you, is what I needed, at this point in my life, start the studies of conducting. If you do not care, do we continue with the interview?
CELIBIDACHE: (he tights the lips with a theatrical expression of indifference and nods)
Mr. Krotxa: Why have the basic figures that shape?
CELIBIDACHE: It's something that is in the nature, our nature and the nature of music, I have not invented. The bars have their own anatomy.The Cross: 1, strong, in the direction of gravity, 2, weak, introverted, 3, strong, but weaker than 1, extroverted, 4weak, but weaker than the two in opposite direction of force of gravity. Triangle: 1, strong, 2 weak, 3 weak but weaker than the 2. The vertical line: 1, strong, 2 weak. What happens is that there are techniques in which all essential points are beaten on the same basic point of the figure and in this technique, are arranged in a horizontal manner. Only in the vertical, beat on the same point. And that's the reason why, on the cross and the triangle, we have to go at different speeds in an essential point to another.
Mr. Krotxa: Has been always like that?
CELIBIDACHE: No, long time ago, the second point of the cross, was marked out, and 3 in, until in 1708, Michael Pignolet of Monteclaire considered that point, the 3, to be strong, must be marked with an extrovert gesture, and from then began to be marked in this way
Mr. Krotxa: Could you draw these basic figures?
CELIBIDACHE: Of course, why no?
Mr. Krotxa: What are the common mistakes that students often make when they are beating the basic figures?
CELIBIDACHE: At first make a lot, as usual, as they have to be aware of many things. They have much information and need time to digest it, but to tell you one, to make a stick figure, be careful not to go after 1, as well as after 2, it would seem a compass to one. It is a mistake by not being habituated to this technique, especially in the early commits. But such things are being solved every day.
Mr. Krotxa: Pardon my ignorance, but is there music that constantly change basic figure?
CELIBIDACHE: It says no nonsense. In fragments or complex works and whenever possible, should maintain the same basic figure. Because would be less clear constantly changing basic figure. But at the same time, these works of complex metric that we seek not to change the basic figure, when the site is changed, it becomes a reference site, a place to grasp, the truth that's a relief. An example of this is the music of Stravinsky, and later composers have written with this compositional technique
Mr. Krotxa: Formerly, it changed the bar?
CELIBIDACHE: It was not common change the bar. One of the first composers to realize that each bar had its own anatomy was Ludwig van Beethoven, who wrote in the scherzo of the 9 th Symphony, "in tythm di tre batutte (bar)" or "in rythm di four batutte" according out, since he realized that did not match the anatomy of the music that he felt with the bar had written. Perhaps the reason was that no bars style changed, but still, with this notation, Beethoven, unlike others, showed intelligence and was aware of the nature that have bars. In the history of music are from the hand of great composers many errors concerning the bars, that being the great music, are not written in the rhythm right, because does not match the anatomy of music with the bar written
Mr. Krotxa: Can you give me some examples?
CELIBIDACHE: There are plenty of them, but to tell you some of the best known "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" by Paul Dukas, written in 3 / 8, when in fact the right thing would have been writing in 9 / 8. Or the Symphony No. 2 Tchaikovsky's"Little Russia" in the final Presto of the 4 th time, is written to 1 when in fact it should be 2, and there are countless examples of this type. There are other cases in which although the composer does not change in time due to changes of figuration, nature, harmony, change the pulse and thus we have to change the basic figure, for example, in many works of Mozart "Eine kleine Nachtmusik "and others.
Mr. Krotxa: You have mentioned pulse. What is pulse in music?
CELIBIDACHE: The pulse is the internal rhythm (heartbeat), which runs to the music and must match with the beat of the conductor. There is another term that is related to the meaning of pulse, but not the same, and that is the motor unit. Motor units are cells that move the music rhythm. The Greeks had rhythmic units called "chronos protos" Latin "primum tempum." The "chronos protos", was a unit of time which could make multiples but it was indivisible. Bars were up to 25 "chronosprotos". There was also and was very popular, called "Pawn cretica", called like that because it is a measure of five "chronos protos" and came from the island of Crete. The system uses Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and many of his works, is based on the "chronos protos" of the ancient Greeks.
Mr. Krotxa: When a score appears quaver = 76, and then makes an expression like adagio or andante time, is it referring to the pulse?
CELIBIDACHE: It should, but not always happen. There has always been confusion among composers, when choosing an expression of time, such as allegro, adagio ... mistook the part with the pulse. When he began to write specific values of time, like quaver = 120, this issue was solved, but still appear as eighth notes = 80 slow, in the case of the firstmovement of Symphony No. 5 Shostacovich. If you think in part it is clear that is adagio, but if you think of the pulse,which is what we should reflect that term is not correct, since it is twice as fast.
Mr. Krotxa: Once you have defined a pulse and a unit motor, do you have any definition for Rythm?
CELIBIDACHE: Order and proportion over time
Mr. Krotxa: Well, it seems we have come to your favorite episode, because I'm going to ask about the upbeat, what is the upbeat?
CELIBIDACHE: The upbeat is the gesture or pulse, which beats the director. Always refers to a previous pulse unit, or what is the same,the upbeat reflect the next pulse unit. So to mark the first upbeat, we mark a unit pulse before the music starts. And in conclusion, conducting, is a constant mark upbests.
Mr. Krotxa: According to that, also we will finish a unit pulse before the last?
CELIBIDACHE: No!, we finish with the music
Mr. Krotxa: How do you mark the upbeat?
CELIBIDACHE: I have an extensive repertoire of upbeats! (he rises again theatrical vein, all proud, as if it were a medieval knight, with his collection of swords), but before beginning to speak of the upbeats, I tell you about what we call "optical reference ". The "optical reference" is the vertical travel to the arm made from a point and return to the same point, thus establishing a reference we call optical reference. It is the fact from a point and return to this point in a vertical line. We give an optical reference marking the upbeat in the beginingof the music and to give clear and sensitive entries in the course of it. Having explained this, I will tell you about the different types of upbeat that we use in this technique. They are the ones used at the beginning of a musical work, the normal upbeat, which is used when the music starts to sound the beginning of the pulse. This should reflect or have implied the character metro and nuance. The character refers to whether the music is legato, staccato ... the subway is the duration of the pulse, for example, black = 60 ... and hue refers to the dynamic, if piano, strong ... Then there is the metric upbeat, which is expressed by only the metro. The upbeat metric is used when the music begins afterbeat, that is the beginning of the pulse is occupied by silence. when we make it, we reflect only the metro,and the character and nuance in the effective beat to the fall of the arm. We do the metric because if the music starts to hiccup in the first pulse, there are musicians, who have more reflections, which if done as normal they would enter immediately afterbeat on the pulse of the upbeat
Mr. Krotxa: Could you explain me what is effective beat?
CELIBIDACHE: The effective beat, is the gesture that reflects the pulse where the music starts, after beat the upbeat.
Mr. Krotxa: continue, continue...
CELIBIDACHE: Finally there is the virtuous upbeat, that does not express any of the three former qualities, character, meter and nuance.It is used as the metric, when the music starts to hiccup (afterbeat), and in the same way that the metric reflects the nature, speed andnuance in the effective beat. Meter and virtuosic used in the same cases and the conductor will make one that creates more convenient at the time, according to the reaction of the orchestra in front and has to be experienced during rehearsal, to see which of the two react bettermusicians.
Mr. Krotxa: There are some more upbeat in your extensive repertoire of upbeats?
CELIBIDACHE: …There is another, which is the dynamics upbeat dynamics. This upbeat, only reflects the nuance and never done at the beginning of a work. Used in sudden ff and sudden pp and also when there are very contrasted dynamic in successive pulses.
Mr. Krotxa: Can you tell me any example?
CELIBIDACHE: I could mention you many, but to give some significant, which always tell to refer to a contrasting dynamics passages insuccessive pulses, is the beginning of the scherzo of the 8 th Symphony of Beethoven.
Mr. Krotxa: Are there times when students pass it worse when conduct?
CELIBIDACHE: Students and not so students... is when you have to correlate. To a lesser extent, when it reaches a ritardando or a changeof time. I am very intuitive, and I've always known correlate and out of many difficult situations, but intuition sometimes fails.
Mr. Krotxa: And what makes the director in such cases?
CELIBIDACHE: Correlating is the more difficult subject for a musician, in this case the conductor. You need to balance the vertical andhorizontal pressure that there is in the continuity of sound of a musical phrase, this in turn is a semiphrase of a greater sentence and so on until reaching the climax, the highest point of tension of a work, and from there the directionality changes, moving towards the end where all the tension is removed, or we have to remove . Always correlating each sentence, and having clear all the time that we are reaching the climax and from there to the end. But I guess that you expected some more technical issues. Technicaly, students pass it worse when there is a change of time and we need to give the upbeat of the new time. There are several cases: when there is a mathematical relation between the two times, is directly. When there is no mathematical relation, there are several possibilities. One, when we come from a slow pulse and move on to another that is faster. In this case, the conductor will stop the gesture in the last pulse of the slow time and mark the upbeat of the new time after the last pulse. Two, when we move from a fast pulse to a slower pulse. In this case we must "eat" the last pulse, stop two pulses before and out at the right time of the new upbeat. And three, when we move from a fast pulse to a slower, is to do directly with the continuity of motion.
Mr. Krotxa: whatever you've told me so far, has this technique a feature that differentiates it from other techniques?
CELIBIDACHE: because we are speaking about technique and not about phenomenology I will mention you what we call "proportions".
Mr. Krotxa: And, what are those proportions?
CELIBIDACHE: Proportions are the different ways to reflect changes of the direction, of the basic figures, according to the musical content(rhythm) of the pulse. This is what forces us to make the continuity of movement of which we spoke at the beginning of our conversation, because without continuity of movement, you can not reflect the proportions. Therefore, proportions are the most powerful weapon which a conductor can get in his hands if it comes to control.
Mr. Krotxa: And what is it?
CELIBIDACHE: The proportions that we use in this technique are: 1 / 1 (one to one) and 2 / 1 (two to one), when the music is legato and 3 / 1 (three to one), 4 / 1 (four to one) and 5 / 1 (five to one), when the music is staccato. The proportion 1 / 1 (one to one), the rhythmic content is two. Less than 1 / 1 does not exist. The gesture of the conductor takes ½ pulse rise from the essential point to the zenith of the curve, and ½ pulse down to the next essential point. The proportion 2 / 1 (two to one), the rhythmic content is three, and the gesture of the director takes 2 / 3 rise from the essential point to the zenith of the curve and 1 / 3 to down. The proportion 3 / 1 (three to one), the rhythmic content is four, and the gesture of the director takes 3 / 4 rise from the essential point to the zenith of the curve and 1 / 4 to down. It took us three motor units up and one down. From this proportion and because of the violence of the arm changing the direction, the gestures is staccato in the proportion 4 / 1 the rhythmic content is five, the gesture of the director takes 4 / 5 to go up and 1 / 5 in down, 4 motor units up and one down. And finally, the proportion 5 / 1 (five to one), the rhythmic content is six, 5 motor units up and one down. There are no other proportions, because proportions greater than 5 / 1 (five to one), would not be understand, and also humanly, can not be made. A music that has a content of two, if you have to do staccato, the proportion would increase by twice and instead of making the proportion 1 / 1 would be doubled to 3 / 1, which is the first proportion staccato. (1 +1 = 2, twice 2 is 4, the proportion which gives 4 is the 3 / 1).
Mr. Krotxa: Must it be so strict on that proportion?
CELIBIDACHE: Not exactly. For example, in passages that are very strong and fast, we can use a small gesture but with a more contrasted proportion, or there may be passages in which we apply a 3 to 1 legato, which many times I refer like not authentic 3 to 1.
Mr. Krotxa: Does not exist back wards proportions?
CELIBIDACHE: Sure, it's what we call pinch. That is to make a proportions contrary to what we do in this technique. I do not advocate that conducting pinching. Although there are many people that conduct like that and has its efficacy, but in the case of accelerando or ritardando the difference between the rise to zenith would be so minimal that they could not perceived.When the proportion is done correctly, the rise to the zenith is larger in terms of motor units, then there is more time to catch the changes.
Mr. Krotxa: What if in the same work there are two groups or sectors in which one goes in staccato and the other legato?
CELIBIDACHE: Then, the gesture of the conductor will have to go with it is more important or need their help. Bearing in mind that this passage does not pose a polyrhythm
Mr. Krotxa: And in the case of polyrhythm?
CELIBIDACHE: When in a work, there is polyrhythm between the different voices, each of the voices would ask a different proportion. Someone will need hiciese 1 / 1, others 2 / 1, other 3 / 1 ... in that case, the conductor must take the lesser of the proportion, 1 / 1, and only intervene with the proportion required by the group that had left the set rhythmically, to put it back in place.
Mr. Krotxa: What would happen if I dont do the relationship that I should do?
CELIBIDACHE: Not making the correct proportion has its consequences, but sometimes the conductor can, not make the proportion that should do voluntarily. When you make proportions that you should not make, voluntarily, we call them "false proportion". False porportion are those that makes the conductor voluntarily and does not correspond with the musical rhythmic content of the pulse. Are used to correct tendency to acceleration, or the tendency to decay under time by the orchestra, and is very useful when accompanying soloists, as the conductor depends on what the soloist does. See if it is not used voluntarily, but done poorly, by mistake, the mess that you can create the conductor. The false proportions may be more or less.
Mr. Krotxa: Then a more contrasted proportion is...
CELIBIDACHE: A proportion is more contrasted, when it takes longer to rise the zenith. More contrast (in the gesture) means to do a morecontrasted proportion. In this technique nothing is conduct the same. The later rise to the zenith, the less it will take to lower and thereforemore contrast
Mr. Krotxa: Could you give me an example to better understand between more contrast and less contrasted?
CELIBIDACHE: Yes of course! first thing we see is that this passage has to be black 60. In the second bar, we have a series of figures, articulations, dynamics, which ask to you make a more or less contrasted. In this second bar, the third pulse will be more contrasted, the second is contrasted but less, the first has some contrast as it is a "hiccup" and the fourth pulse has no contrast.
Mr. Krotxa: Returning to the false proportions, when a orchestra that tends to acelerate or deacelerate when they dont should we apply false relations, I conclude that to make that come accelerandos and ritardandos written in the score, we must also make false proportions, it is say, you have to do more or less contrasting proportions.
Mr. Krotxa: Do you have some definition for acelerando and ritardando?
CELIBIDACHE: Accelerando. There is an international language for the music is Italian, so do not cost us anything to say with two ccaccelerando, as biology has a universal language is Latin, referring to the world of living things.
Mr. Krotxa: Sorry, continue please
CELIBIDACHE: From a technical standpoint accelerate is mark progressively shorter upbeats in the time, and ritardando in reverse, is mark profressively larger upbeats in the time. In accelerandos and ritardandos may become necessary, change the basic figure, in which case, we must advise a pulse before (remember that any change in music takes place in the conductor a pulse unit before).
Mr. Krotxa: So, the accelerandos happen pulse to pulse?
CELIBIDACHE: You do not have. An example is the dance of the miller (farruca) of "The Three-Cornered Hat" of Falla, in the end, wherethe accelerando (which actually is not written in the score) occurs in cycles. On that score, Falla, puts a different value to the pulse every 8bars. As there are conductors who think that instead of going slowly accelerating in cycles of 4 pulses, the time should be kept untilchangethe the speed written, and suddenly change to the new value.It is nonsense! A dancer, doesn't knows bars!, It does so naturally and intuitively!, Never closes when the music pushes, pushes when the music opens. We have a similar example in the last movement of BrittenSimple Symphony
Sr. Krotxa: Dominate the proporitons should give greater control to the conductor?
CELIBIDACHE: Or you can leave it in evidence if you do bad! for some who does not do it is going better, because the baton does not sound! But this technique is to reflect what is happening in music with the gesture, and there are conductors who conduct, who get excellent sound of the orchestra, but you can not see the music in the gesture... and they may charge more!
Sr. Krotxa: Did you training for that?
CELIBIDACHE: We usually spend some class time to training technique. At first, after explaining what are the proportions, we do them. At first we use words for each motor of the proportions. Generally all the students stay in the class, where I can watch them from the piano. We agreed on a basic figure and a proportion. And I improvise music while they make. Sometimes I make rubatos and they must follow me.Sometimes I tell them to take me, because it is not the same performance a symphony than a soloist concert, where most of the time you have to follow the soloist. For proportions more contrasted, we do an exercise called scatto, which is to hit the imaginary line from the initial position as quickly as possible and relax the arm immediately after the beat, leaving to go up in proportion to the force used. We also do exercieses of continued motion, which is to raise the arm from a position where they are completely dead, at the top, keeping the bow arm and forearm, while we complete a certain number of pulses. Also we do exercises of independent of the arms. While we continue with one arm, the other left in initial position. Or while with one we mark the basic figures with the other reflect joints such as pizzicato, sfortzatos...or with each arm we mark different basic figures at once ... you can make many combinations of exercises.
Sr. Krotxa: What are the common mistakes that students often make when they are marking the upbeat and proportions?
CELIBIDACHE: There are some students to give the upbeat, move their heads. One has to stand still at that time, for the attention of the musicians to focus on the arms. Another mistake is that some people, when run, move the wrist, and is a move that is never synchronizedwith the arm, as the movement of the head in the upbeat. This creates a conflict, as each of these joints reflects a different proportions, and the result could be a disaster. It also makes another mistake, fairly typical of students who start, which is committed to make the upbeat, and that's what I call "blind down", comparing the effect happened when in the old trains or old houses you down the wood blinds, which look like they are stuck and when released suddenly to fall down with your hands. It is intervening too much in the fall so that gives the sameeffect of lowering the blind in the way I have explained before.
Sr. Krotxa: Tell me about the bars, because I know that as the upbeats, you classify the bars in different types?
CELIBIDACHE: You're right. What I call normali and dispari. The normali or normal bars are those in which the pulses that mark the conductor are equidistant in rhythm. The Dispari can be disparita di primo grado (are those in which the essentials points of the basic figures are not beaten the same number of times), and disparita di secondo grado, (are those whose pulse that beats the conductor, are not equidistant rhythmically). The disparity in disparita di primo grado, is in the bar but the pulses are rhythmically equidistant. The fact thatan essential point beat more than others, but equidistant pulses rhythmically, is what causes the disparity between the essential points. Thedisparity in disparita di secondo grado is in pulses, as they are not rhythmically equidistant.
Sr. Krotxa: Now let me ask you a recherche question, how would be the upbeat in a disparaty bar?
CELIBIDACHE: The upbeat in de disparity bars have to be always equivalent to the shorter pulse. In reality the upbeats always have to contain like minimum two motor units, I say this paragraph to clarify the cases of measures that have pulses of 3 and 4 motor units, as wehave two easily grasp the value of 3, for a nearby mathematical relation. Instead in shorter pulse, to give the value of 3, we can not capture the speed of 4, For a very distantly mathematical relation.
Sr. Krotxa: What is that you call disparity? I've heard a few times, in these classes of the orchestra that you do with your students. you Told to your students that if the disparity was not in place, you should not do it ... what is this disparity?
CELIBIDACHE: I mean the way to beat the pulse, such that it creates a disparity between the rhythmic content. If the rhythmic content is four, the disparity is 1 to 3. and if the rhythmic content is three, the disparity is between 1 and 2. It is used in many situations. For example,when we accompany singers and we are making a ritardando, or give a new time that is rhythmic content of three and is very slow, thus we shorten the pulse, or for us to do ritardandos and accelerandos. I have even used the disparity like upbeat.
Sr. Krotxa: Is there a writing system that you the conductors use?
CELIBIDACHE: Yes we call scratch scores
Sr. Krotxa: And what is it?
CELIBIDACHE: It is very simple. The essential points of the basic figures are reflected graphically with a long vertical line, the rhythmic content of these pulses, with points, and the subdivision, with short lines.
Sr. Krotxa: Then, in the case of accelerandos that make it necessary to change the basic figure, could you write with thissystem?
Sr. Krotxa: Could you show me?
CELIBIDACHE: Yes of course, I will draw you on the blackboard
4/4 accellerando que pasa a 2 | | | • | • | • | • | •
4/4 ritardando a 2 que pasa a 4 | • | • | • | • | • | | | | | |
3/4 accellerando a 3 que pasa a 1 | | | | | | | | • | • •
3/4 ritardando a 1 que pasa a 3 | • • | • • | • | | | |
Sr. Krotxa: When you explained to me what is the writing system, you mentioned the word "subdivisions", what is a subdivision in music?
CELIBIDACHE: Subdividing is beat again with a smaller gesture, each of the essential points of the basic figures. In this technique must be take in care not to make more than three pulses in same direction, ie, the essential point plus 2 subdivisions.
Sr. Krotxa: Always?
CELIBIDACHE: Of course there are exceptions. In Romeo and Juliet there is a number "Before the departure" which is a 3 / 2 to eighth, where the eighth note is equal to 76 and you have to mark four pulses in a way. But they are exceptions that you have to do because there is no choice
Sr. Krotxa: Is it possible to subdivide all the bars?
CELIBIDACHE: Yes, but there are some that when are subdivided change the basic figure, others change to disparita di primo grado and others to disparita di secondo.
Sr. Krotxa: For example?
CELIBIDACHE: The 6/8, that in tarantella rhythms, going to two, in slower times in which we mark the 6-pulse corresponds to the basic figure we call the cross divided, which are removed 2 pulses, basically the two essential points weaker. There are another 5 possibilities,depending on the essential point that we beat again, according the anatomy of music. This is an example of how a normal bar that has stick figure, changes the basic figure and becomes in disparita di primo grado. In addition, we can make the gesture of 6 / 8, so that it becomessubdivided triangle.
Sr. Krotxa: Under dictated by the anatomy of music?
CELIBIDACHE: Of course. It is to find the strengths and weaknesses parts. In general, we must take into account that we should notchange direction when the music is quiet.
Sr. Krotxa: Are there bars that when subdivided don't change the basic figure?
CELIBIDACHE: True, the triangle or the cross. But keep in mind that these bars, if we subdivide up to three times every essential point, for example in the bars of 9 / 8 and 12 / 8, it is appropriate that the last part of the compass, rather than subdivided into the same essential point is made in a small triangle figure.
Sr. Krotxa: why?
CELIBIDACHE: Because with many subdivisions, the musician can be lost, or if it lost, would be more dificult to pick up. In this way, we note clearly what is the last part of the bar and when start the next bar, so the musicians have a much clearer reference of the one. For the same reason, the basic figure of stick, if subdivided, instead of two subdivisions in every essential point, what we do is turn it into a figure of a cross.
Sr. Krotxa: And a bar that we take to one, How do we subdivide it?
CELIBIDACHE: It will depend on their rhythm content. If you have a content of two, you can do a stick and content of three, triangle, even stick in disparita di secondo grado
Sr. Krotxa: Are there any other type of subdivision?
CELIBIDACHE: Yes, but it has nothing to do with the subdivision of which I have been talking so far, we call subdivision on the fly.
Sr. Krotxa: Can you explain me what is subdivision on the fly?
CELIBIDACHE: It is a gesture mark used by the conductor that is set up in the course of the curve going from an essential point of thebasic figure to another or to the same, and that happens at the right time when the conductor wants to reflect something. This footprintgesture is reflected by the conductor by a muscular contraction in the arm and place in the 2nd half of the pulse, 2nd third or 3rd third, according to the rhythmic content of the pulse. The subdivision on the fly doen't intend to tell the musician or anticipate anything, but reflecta musical act at the time it occurs.
Sr. Krotxa: Pardon my ignorance, but so far I thought that because the musicians already had the score, the conductor was not necesary... so, the conductor command!
CELIBIDACHE: This is what most people think, and in most cases, they are right, because in conducting, unfortunately, is where there is more chance of trick ... because the baton does not ring. .. and as the public, mostly do not understand ... because if they understood ... many conductor would have to engage in agriculture or any another profession! To the public and music critics are impressed some gestures, mostunnecessary, but it looks good ... handsome, tall, serious or famous to be the conductor, and perhaps trivial things with those gestures, is doing the work of musicians more complicated and unclear. But let us leave this issue aside. When you said what the conductor command ...there is a case in which the conductor should not take the initiative and is in the crescendos and diminuendo. In these cases, the last to growor diminish, must be the director.
Sr. Krotxa: And Who start?
CELIBIDACHE: The musicians have written crescendo in the score, and each musical begins its musical criterion. The conductor interveneif they grow or even decreases too much or too less. Although in the rehearsal, has to solve problems that occur in crescendo passages.Leaving the crescendo in the hands of musicians, with the possibility of intervention by the conductor, because of the limitations that havethe instruments, the sounds between the different families of instruments, may unbalance the whole. Then depending on the importance of each voice and each instrument problems, the director will have to balance the crescendo during the rehearsal. For example, there are casesin which the instrument at the time of the music is the weakest, gives the measure of crescendo. It is logical, because if not, there are stronger instruments would plug his voice. After rehearsal, the conductor left in their hands, only intervene if necessary.
Sr. Krotxa: Do you have kept some "ace" under the sleeve? Is there a trick?
CELIBIDACHE: You want that I tell you all my secrets... There's one, which could be regarded as an "ace" under the seleeve, haha. It's called "anticipation" The anticipation is to advance, usually in ½ pulse the follow. You can anticipate all the pulses, and is not advisable to advance the one, except for some cases. It also may be made in advance of 1 / 3 or 2 / 3, according to the rhythmic content of the pulse.Anticipation is a resource for greater tension, and specifically in the strings for a greater tenuto and pressure in the arc. Only use it when we have exhausted all the technical resources to achieve those purposes. Is often used in slow times. Must be prove in the rehearsals. we should not do equal or abuse them, because it loses effectiveness if the musician is usually to the same. To leave the anticipation, sometimes, we usewhat we call "beat derivative", which is to reflect the second half of the pulse advance. The anticipation can be more of a pulse in such cases,the "beat derivative" is made only after the last anticipation. This beat is intended to guide the orchestra on the pulse in which we find at the end of anticipations.
The antidote of anticipation, is the subdivision. That is, to relax, we subdivided where the orchestra do not expect it.
The antidote of anticipation, is the subdivision. That is, to relax, we subdivided where the orchestra do not expect it.
Sr. Krotxa: Well yes it is an "ace"!... Does anyone else?
CELIBIDACHE: There is a technical resource that we call "absorption" and that generally reflects sudden pianissimo, or harmonicresolutions. Is not to make any of the essentials points of the basic figure that we are conducting, without the orchestra expect. You're takingall my secrets! A magician never tells the secret of his magic and I've told you too much...
Sr. Krotxa: Why is not edited all this material? Do not you think if you had written a method, you would better meet withthe educational work?
CELIBIDACHE: I do not advocate that the teaching of this specialty is made in a written and publish way, because people would notunderstand it.
Sr. Krotxa: Even so, it seems strange that so important a technique, a specialty as prestigious as orchestra conducting, which has been taught around the world, has not been written or edited, and circulate in a furtive oral say. I think is the same stubbornness that is known in you about do not record music, same Masonic idea. I do not want to abuse your confident, you are 3 hours talking non-stop and I think it's time to take a pause. And now after say pause, I have remembered fermata, tell me about the fermata in music.
CELIBIDACHE: The fermata is a sign that represents the suspension of the music for a while. I was taught, and teach it in schools so that the value of the figure carrying the fermata (note or rest), takes the value of the figure, more the half its value, and this, although it is notexact is aproximative. The concept of the fermata is another. The fermata has a duration not absolute but relative. The conductor has theresponsibility to give the appropriate duration for fermata, depending on the musical structure that is putting in motion. The conductormust correlation the structure, and according to that correlation, giving appropriate value to the figure carrying the fermata.
Sr. Krotxa: Is The fermata a technical problem for the conductor?
CELIBIDACHE: Yes, it is really. To come out of the fermata, the conductor must take into account a number of rules, that we call them thefermata's commands. The realization of fermata does not require any knowledge of different technique. It is about applying the techniquestudied so far, in a manner determined by the different cases
Sr. Krotxa: And what are those rules and cases?
CELIBIDACHE: The first command: the conductor will stops the gesture in pulse or pulse fraction where the figure has the fermata, whatever its duration. Second: to restart the musical speech, will mark the upbeat of the pulse where the music is restarted. The position of the arms when we stopped in the fermata, can be any essential point of the basic figure or its subdivisions. Third: If, after a figure carrying a fermata is followed by one or more silence the conductor will not make upbeat of silence, if not directly, the pulse where is the silence or thefirst silence . This gesture server to cut the fermata. Fourth: When, after the figure carrying the fermata is a silence shorter than the value of a pulse, to leave the fermata, we will do a metric or virtuosic upbeat, and to make the next pulse, which is silence (effective beat ) we will do the corresponding proportion, usually something more contrasted, to make the hiccup, as for the purposes it is a start as hiccup. If you are running a very slow music, you could go directly to the pulse where the music is restart, with more contrasted false proportion. Although as explained earlier is easier and more comfortable. Fifth: When the figure carrying the fermata takes part of the next pulse, we leave it with upbeat metric or virtuosic (as in all cases where the music happens as hiccup). Just would not be necessary in very slow time where you could mark directly on the pulse where the music restart. Sixth: When the music restart at the same pulse which is the figure that takes the fermata we will mark metric or virtuosic upbeat before beat again the same pulse where we were. Seventh: When the figure carrying the fermata takes part of the next bar we must do virtuosic upbeat for guidance, for the orchestra to capture (especially those who do not have bars of play and have to wait) that we are in a new. Eighth: When the figure carrying the fermata is not at the beginning of the pulse, the gesture must continue until we reach the figure carrying the fermata, to continue, we will leave with the appropiate upbeat. Ninth: When there are staggered fermatas in different voices and all are in the last fermata, the conductor will continue marking the bar until the pulse where it is the last fermata, and to leave, will mark the corresponding upbeat. And tenth: When the fermata is on the divide line the gesture stop when finish the value of the last pulse, and we will mark the corresponding upbeat as happens in the musical discourse.
Sr. Krotxa: Wow!!!, as the Biblical 10 commandments.
CELIBIDACHE: Yes, in fact we call like that, "the commandments of the fermatas"
Sr. Krotxa: One last thing, what you tell to your students, before starting to conduct, before put into this mesmerizingoriginal position?
CELIBIDACHE: When you're in initial position, and just before to reflect the upbeat that the musical discourse will begin, think about the climax of the work so you can remember the way you have to do to get there, and you left, to return home
Sr. Krotxa: What a lesson that you have given me!
CELIBIDACHE: Thanks for the interview, Mr Krotxa. I hope that we continue with these meetings. I hope that my explanations will haveserved some purpose, and that will serve you to better understand and appreciate music. Because even if you're not a musician, and you caneasily be fooled because that, everybody who has a bit of sensitivity can appreciate the true nature of the music, even you, the mystery and magic that is reached and is discovered with a good performance... I hope that as a journalist, from now you will see the conductors with new eyes, for better or for worse, and be consequent with what you say.
Sr. Krotxa: I'm sure. Thank you very much for this lecture Maestro Celibidache, and to another, has been an immense pleasure.