Need for Beat Patterns?
Date: November 29, 2010
Is there a reason why directors of unaccompanied vocalists need to use standard beat patterns? I've been singing for over thirty-five years, but have never followed the pattern for the pattern's sake. In other words, while I've been very responsive to the conducting, I've never tracked which beat of the measure we're on. And I've sung in some very high caliber groups, singing extremely challenging music without any problem. All the singers I've asked about this shared a similar process; none of the folks I've asked track the actual beats.
Since I'm aware of the attention given this aspect of conducting in most graduate schools (and I know that many directors spend a great amount of time conscientiously preparing a beat pattern), I'm curious...
Is there any research that explores this issue, perhaps comparing the performance of the same group conducted with or without standard beat patterns?
If you knew that the singers in your choir weren't following the beat patterns per se, would you shift your approach?
If you discovered that freeing your conducting from the beat pattern would result in greater musicality for the singers (and for you), would you shift?
If you sing in a choir, do you follow the beat patterns?
Do you see any reason for using standard beat patterns for unaccompanied singers?
Do you conduct without standard beat patterns now? If so, what do you like about doing so? What are the challenges?
Or is there some reason why current conducting pedagogy exists -- "Using the standard beat pattern is the best way to ___________________________," for example. And if it is the "best way to _____________________," would it remain superior if instrumentalists were taken completely out of the picture (assuming that they follow beats more assiduously).
All my best,
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