African American Conductors
Conducting, as we know it today is less than two centuries old.1 On the other hand time beating; a way of holding players and/or singers together, has been around for several centuries. 1 In the absence of written notation, the leader’s hands indicated the direction of the group. As polyphony entered the musical picture, it became essential that the beats be on target. Interpretation at the time was of no importance. It has been indicated through engravings that in addition to hands, leaders of instrumental and vocal forces utilized a foot, a stick, a pendulum, a handkerchief, or maybe even a piece of paper. 1 In the seventeenth century the element of interpretation entered the music scene, enhancing the role of the leader greatly. This freedom of interpretation increased the conductors responsibility, although no universal practices existed. Gradually the method of time beating approached uniformity; as meters became establishe...