Thursday, November 03, 2011

Giancarlo Andretta and the Highlander Principle

My beloved teacher back at the Royal Danish Academy of Music (he no longer teaches there unfortunately) Giancarlo Andretta, is a man of many words and stern principles which he would gladly share with us students, repeatedly and with great conviction.

I will respectfully share my thoughts on a couple of them, noting that I have truly taken much of Andretta's teaching to heart, and have found many of his expressions to be not only truisms but also truths.


1) "There is only one one
" (a.k.a. The 'Highlander Principle')
Premise: If your "1" beat (the first beat, the downbeat) is always in the same place, the people who you are conducting will always know where to find it. 

Also:
    • No other beat must be in the same spot that your "1" is.
    • Your "1" must always go downwards.

This is fantastic advice in my opinion, and one that all conducting teachers should pass on to their students.
Anyone playing to a conductor whose "2" or "3" is in the same place as the "1" will tell you it can be very disruptive and confusing.  It takes me roughly 2 seconds to spot a conductor whose downbeat is always somewhere 'upstairs' or always in a different spot, and it always makes me cringe.  (Right now I can almost hear Andretta shouting "THERE IS NO UP!! YOU MUST GO DOWN, DOWN, DOWN!!". )

My own personal observations lead me to believe that a missed entrance or a confused chorus is very often a result of the conductor not properly adhering to the 'Highlander Principle'.




2) "There can be no escape"

Premise: With your "1" locked firmly in place, you are able to completely steer your forces, allowing them no escape.

This is actually a sub-article of the 'Highlander Principle', that is to say; it is the presumed result of a correctly applied 'Highlander Principle'.
You cannot allow the orchestra to run away, or yourself to run away with them. If the orchestra don't follow you, you simply stay put until they do.
Now, I think Andretta is on to something, but not completely right. My first teacher at the academy, Frans Rasmussen, took a slightly different approach. His take on control was, that as a conductor you should 'hold the reigns, as if riding a horse'. You don't keep the reigns too tight, or your 'horse' will stall; become too locked to perform freely and will quickly become nervous and at worst obstructive. I like this analogy.
The more rigid 'no escape' policy is powerful under the right circumstances, but I don't believe it to be absolutely true of conducting in general. 

Nevertheless, this 'Lex Andrettae' touches on a very interesting phenomemon in conducting: There is a delicate fuse between the conductor and the orchestra that allow a meaningful interaction to take place, wherein the conductor is - pardon the pun - in charge.
Certain actions on the part of the conductor breaks the fuse, and his actual power vanishes. This is a one-way street byt the way; only the Conductor can break it.

A whole variety of actions can result in a broken fuse: correcting something that wasn't actually a mistake, giving wrong cues repeatedly, giving mixed messages about specific playing styles or articulations etc. etc.
Possibly the most devastating one is allowing the orchestra to run away from the tempo you actually want to set. If you don't immedeately interrupt the rehearsal and try to correct this, you will have effectively broken the fuse and lost not only your power, but most likely also the respect of the orchestra. Some orchestras might replace the fuse for you for your next rehearsal together, but some have a strictly one-fuse-policy.

At the moment, we are unfortunately seeing something like this unfold at the Royal Danish Opera's current production of 'Cosi Fan Tutte', where somewhere along the line the fuse was blown, and the orchestra now almost completely ignores their conductor and is trying to play the opera on it their own. The result is of course less than satisfying.
(I cannot say what caused the disruption, as I have not been present at rehearsals.)



3) "It is not our mistake, but it becomes our problem!"
Although ideally not a principle of conducting per se, this is another one of my favorite 'Andrettaisms'.


Premise: You must accept, that as a conductor you will have to take the blame for a lot of other people's mistakes, and accept that the ideal quality of your work will always be influenced by mistakes you yourself did not necessarily make.


Of course, this happens a lot, and thankfully it doesn't mean that conductors don't get rightly blamed for mistakes they make, it just means that a lot will appear to be the conductor's fault, when it fact it could be the musician's, the singers', the stage manager's, the director's or someone elses fault. When you take to the podium, you have to be able to carry the weight of that responsability, and never stoop to playing blame games or spending your precious rehearsal time barking at someone for making mistakes. When you are on the podium, their mistake is now your problem, so do what you can to solve it or change your focus.


- Jesper

4 comments:

oakleyses said...

jordan pas cher, polo ralph lauren outlet online, ugg boots, burberry pas cher, prada outlet, chanel handbags, prada handbags, oakley sunglasses, christian louboutin shoes, nike air max, air max, ray ban sunglasses, gucci handbags, christian louboutin, polo outlet, michael kors pas cher, oakley sunglasses wholesale, kate spade outlet, nike free, nike air max, oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet, louis vuitton, longchamp outlet, christian louboutin uk, oakley sunglasses, nike free run, louis vuitton outlet, christian louboutin outlet, ugg boots, louis vuitton, longchamp outlet, nike outlet, jordan shoes, longchamp pas cher, polo ralph lauren, uggs on sale, louis vuitton outlet, louboutin pas cher, tiffany and co, tiffany jewelry, ray ban sunglasses, nike roshe, cheap oakley sunglasses, tory burch outlet, longchamp outlet, ray ban sunglasses, replica watches, replica watches

oakleyses said...

polo lacoste, ray ban uk, lululemon canada, sac vanessa bruno, michael kors outlet, north face uk, kate spade, michael kors outlet online, uggs outlet, uggs outlet, replica handbags, nike air max, oakley pas cher, sac hermes, abercrombie and fitch uk, hollister uk, nike air max uk, true religion outlet, nike free uk, michael kors outlet, michael kors, nike roshe run uk, michael kors outlet online, nike air force, guess pas cher, michael kors, converse pas cher, timberland pas cher, burberry handbags, mulberry uk, nike tn, north face, coach purses, nike blazer pas cher, true religion outlet, coach outlet store online, vans pas cher, true religion outlet, hollister pas cher, hogan outlet, burberry outlet, michael kors outlet online, true religion jeans, new balance, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet, ralph lauren uk, nike air max uk

oakleyses said...

chi flat iron, hollister, reebok outlet, lululemon, converse outlet, p90x workout, babyliss, hollister clothing, hermes belt, hollister, converse, nike trainers uk, nfl jerseys, ghd hair, herve leger, mcm handbags, baseball bats, iphone cases, mont blanc pens, north face outlet, jimmy choo outlet, instyler, louboutin, ralph lauren, wedding dresses, bottega veneta, new balance shoes, longchamp uk, nike roshe run, soccer shoes, nike air max, valentino shoes, abercrombie and fitch, mac cosmetics, gucci, vans, nike huaraches, timberland boots, insanity workout, vans outlet, beats by dre, oakley, ray ban, north face outlet, giuseppe zanotti outlet, asics running shoes, ferragamo shoes, nike air max, celine handbags, soccer jerseys

oakleyses said...

canada goose outlet, louis vuitton, wedding dresses, pandora uk, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, thomas sabo, replica watches, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, moncler, links of london, pandora jewelry, marc jacobs, coach outlet, karen millen uk, supra shoes, barbour uk, montre pas cher, moncler outlet, pandora charms, swarovski crystal, moncler uk, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, barbour, canada goose, canada goose outlet, canada goose, canada goose outlet, swarovski, ugg, canada goose, pandora jewelry, moncler, canada goose jackets, louis vuitton, doudoune moncler, ugg pas cher, moncler, juicy couture outlet, toms shoes, ugg uk, louis vuitton, canada goose uk, lancel, juicy couture outlet, moncler outlet, hollister, moncler

If you could magically create your dream conductor, but he/she could only posess one quality, he/she should preferably be...