of the most important expressive gestures used in instrumental conducting
is the fermata or hold. These devices often occur at the highlight of a
musical phrase, before a change of tempo or musical section or at the end
of the piece. It is essential that the conductor clearly conveys to the
ensemble precisely what they want from the group in relation to the hold.
with a Caesura
These are the
easiest variety to conduct as the require a complete break on the musical
line. For this gesture, the conductor goes into the fermata, indicates the
desired length with a slight motion of the hands, then cuts the ensemble
off. The conductor then does a regular preparatory beat to re-start the
with a Lift
type of fermata is somewhat more confusing to indicate. The conductor
leads the ensemble to the hold, stretches the length of the hold as
desired, then without a complete cut-off does a preparatory beat to
Restart the ensemble.
with a Continuation
Often times, this
is the most musically valid way to proceed out of fermata. In this case,
the conductor leads the ensemble into the hold, continues motion with
hands, then without a release or preparatory beat, re-starts the ensemble.
This gesture is especially desirable when the fermata or hold is rather