Why there is a conductor for orchestra? Actually there are many reasons, even though musicians can play without a conductor (and sometimes they actually do).
Question is – can we make a better conductor by making the artificial system that could answer all the needs and maybe do things that could improve the performance of the orchestra?
Let’s take several primary reasons and try to refer to each while replacing each functionality by technical capability.
In a large orchestra, the time taken for the sound to travel is long and ear-based feedback of musicians is insufficient (even if heard) and causing the lag.
Not just for the beginning, but for the resting of musicians. Especially for brass, woodwind and percussion players, there can be considerable stretches of time when they are not required.
- Make sure that the volume of the instruments balances so nothing is drowned out
It is very hard to synchronize the volume in large orchestra, so conductor is helping to stabilize it.
- Phrasing, tempo, bowings and general style
Those are the elements that conductor shall dictate to the members of the ensemble.
- And… the Show.
To do this, we can provide the pre-programmed system with distributed audio sensors and visual central and distributed interfaces.
Required features of the system:
- Conductor display to provide centralized signals such as beginning and stop, including preparation indicator
- Local displays to be aligned with the instrument, position, adjust to and present a sheet music (it. partitura) and have personal musician’s configuration.
- Local displays to provide begin signals and preparation
- Compensation of delays (TDR) and full alignment between all local stations
- Audio sensors and volume/misalignment feedback to local stations.
- Gathering of audio data for analysis and post-performance feedback and continuous improvement of the ensemble.
- The show/experience component might be intensified by leveraging the real-time data and showing some powerful visuals for people in the concert. In addition the system can provide the visual streaming from local stations so people could see the people behind the performance.
- Visual tempo/phrasing/dynamics conductor display. Something like this (sketch):
Obviously there is a need in a preparations and this might be just an instrument in the hands of the professionals, but this direction can scale up the use of conducting and maybe even improve it 😉