Steven J. Morrison, Brian A. Silvey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Conductors communicate musical information visually through gesture, facial expression, and eye contact. The extent to which a conductor demonstrates these nonverbal skills influences how performers respond and how listeners perceive musical performances. Expressive conductors are not only preferred over conductors who appear unexpressive, but the performances of their ensembles are perceived as more expressive. Auditory and visual information associated with a conducted performance appears to be integrated into a coherent and complex musical experience. Expert conducting skills are characterized by high levels of variability among movements and gestures, both within individual conductors and across different conductors. There is no direct relationship between specific visual information and specific performance outcomes, and findings suggest no link between conductors overall expressivity and the quality of ensemble performances. Conductors play an important role in organizing, shaping, and synchronizing the performances they conduct, but are not alone in these responsibilities; both temporal and expressive information are communicated throughout the ensemble. Although the task of conducting falls to a single individual, conducting is a multifaceted and interactive endeavor that encompasses multiple relationships. In this chapter, we explore the intersections between the conductor and the ensemble, and that between the audience and the conductor/ensemble entity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Music Performance
Subtitle of host publicationDevelopment and Learning, Proficiencies, Performance Practices, and Psychology: Volume 1
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780190056285
ISBN (Print)9780190056315
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • conducting
  • ensemble
  • ensemble performance
  • expressivity
  • gesture
  • music performance
  • synchronization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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