Step 3 - Conducting
con⋅duct [v. kuhn-duhkt]
–verb (used with object)
7. to direct (an orchestra, chorus, etc.) as leader.
–verb (used without object)
10. to lead.
11. to act as conductor, esp. of a musical group.
Why do I need conducting?
Simple, musical groups that are conducted perform better. Conducting
helps dramatically with dynamics and rhythm; and we want to avoid
the every man for himself, or everyone leads themselves, mentality
that many musical groups have. Another common issue that bands
have is being led in a circle. For example, the drummer follows the
bass player, who follows the pianist, who follows the drummer. This
is another recipe for musical failure.
For musicians in the studio, a click track can act as the conductor. A
singular performance/instrument may also conduct the piece, but if
you end up tracking the performances individually, the conducting
instrument must be tracked first.
At this point you just need to choose 'what' will lead your
performances dynamically and rhythmically. It can only be one thing
(instrument, click track, performer, member of the band, or actual
Conducting with Midi...
The quantization pattern will 'conduct' your midi instruments. Whether
you set it up yourself, or you use your sequencer's factory installed
quantization pattern, the quantization pattern will establish the feel of
your piece. Often, preset quantization patterns on your sequencer will
make the piece sound computerized or electronic. Understand that
there are always slight rhythmic discrepancies with human
performances, no matter how good the performer is. Therefore, most
midi sequencers contain quantization patters that are designed to
mimic human imperfection. Study your sequencer to find them.
Conducting in live recordings and venues...
Jason Alan Johnson says...
I have recorded many live concerts and gigs for bands all over the
country. I have found that simply saying, "Jim is your conducting
lead. Everyone follow him", makes all the difference in the world.
As for midi, I never allow sequencing software to be my conducting lead. I believe that this is a big problem for amateur,
electronic-music, producers. I always allow a human being to create my feel, either by recording them acoustically, looping a
sample of a real performance, or building a quantization pattern based on a live performance.
Later, in the editing phase, you will use your conducting lead track as a base to beat match other tracks in the recording. You will
understand this more in editing, but it is one of the keys to the BIG sound. So, for now, do yourself a favor and choose a
conducting lead part for each of your pieces and plan on tracking that part first.