Style & Dynamics



Pattern Shape and Size
Left Hand Vertical Movement


Pattern Shape and Size

Varying the size of the beat pattern is a common and very convenient way to communicate changes in dynamic level.  If the conductor wishes the ensemble to play loudly, the pattern should be large.  If a much softer dynamic level is required, then the pattern should be correspondingly smaller.  The shape of the pattern also indicates style.  A sharply angular pattern, for example, suggests a marcato style, whereas a smooth, flowing pattern suggests a more legato approach.

Left-hand Vertical Movement

Moving the left hand along the vertical plane is also useful in indicating a crescendo or diminuendo.  When seeking a crescendo, the left hand should begin on the horizontal plane and move upwards and outwards.  The palm should be open and extended towards the ensemble and may actually rise above the head.  Indicating a diminuendo involves beginning at the most extended position and moving downwards and inwards with the palm of the hand facing the ensemble.  Some conductors prefer moving the hand towards the face, closing the hand slowly until the tips of the thumb and the middle finger come into contact just in front of the mouth.  This can be very effective, particularly when combined with facial gestures indicating a demand for less sound.