Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Baltimore Rhapsody" Block #19 - the conductor...


What is the orchestra without someone in charge?  This is the final block for this orchestral quilt, but there will be more music blocks to come (don't fret if you have not seen your favorite yet).


The conductor not only "keeps the beat" and keeps everyone together, but also studies the musical score so much that it is memorized.  This can be literally thousands of measures of music, and keeps "the score in his head - not his head in the score" so that he/she is free to make eye contact with the musicians and draw every possible drop of expression from the performance.


While a conductor probably plays at least one instrument, he/she knows much about all the instruments.  They must also be physically fit...take a pencil, hold your arm out at shoulder level, and try to direct through a song on the radio...it is not easy!


Most orchestra and band conductors use a baton (stick) in one hand.  It is an expressive extension of the hand, and makes crisp and/or sweeping movements that are easily seen and interpreted by the musicians.  The other hand is used to control dynamics, etc (and pull up pants, if necessary, LOL).

At some point, I want to make this block, with the pants bunched around the ankles and humorous boxer shorts revealed (or a tattoo, LOL).  Can you tell I grew up watching a lot of Bugs Bunny and Loony Tunes cartoons?!?  (including the "Rabbit of Seville" and Wagner's "Kill de Wabbit")

Choral directors usually don't use a baton, as voices are easier to mold and direct expressively with hands.


In addition to studying and memorizing many scores for each concert, the conductor is always searching out new music.  


To conduct is to be more than just being a two-legged metronome, more than just an indication of tempo...the whole body is used to interpret the music through baton flourishes, body positions, and facial expressions.  It can seem like an interpretive dance.


The conductor can take certain liberties with tempo and dynamics, and can emphasize instruments and musical motifs as he/she likes.  This is why listening to two different conductors recording the same piece of music can be so interesting and different.


In the past, great conductors were composers as well.  Until the early 1800's, they might be the concert master or harpsichord player, directing while playing.  

The level of conducting difficulty depends on the kind of musical work being performed.  Operas and ballets may be the most difficult - not only does the conductor direct the orchestral musicians, but has to be concerned with singers, actors, soloists, and dancers.  

To conduct a ballet, the conductor must have a sense of "muscle memory" that allows a piece of music to be conducted at the same tempo each time.  This way the dancer has no surprises!


The tuxedo worn by the conductor is usually all black, but I chose a dark gray for the pants so that the coat and pants wouldn't meld into some sort of bizarre musical jumpsuit.


Most of the famous conductors of the 20th century were older men, with stylish, gray hair.  I chose to make my conductor youthful, with the kind of face, hair (and body) that could cause a young, impressionable, female woodwind player to miss entrances due to staring and swooning (guilty...).


This is probably not the final block arrangement, but it is fun to see them all together, and I wanted to see what they would look like with no sashing, which is a popular setting in antique Baltimore album quilts.  The setting and outer borders are my next concern.


If you would like to read more about this project, read here.  Now that all the blocks are done (so that GOOD photography can be done), it won't be long until the block patterns will be available for purchase.  Stay tuned!  (ha-ha...get it?!?  "tuned"?!?)

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)

27 comments:

  1. The amount of work you get done puts me to shame... If you do the pants on the ground version.. the undies may need to be Looney Tunes.. :)

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  2. I was wondering what the final block would be. What a unique ending with the conductor. I was wondering if you were a music major. You have a lot of knowledge about orchestral instruments.

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  3. Just gorgeous! I have so enjoyed this journey and I wish you great sucess with the pattern sale.

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  4. Lovely, lovely--I am more than ready for that "downbeat" (:--]] Julierose

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  5. They are spectacular all together there!

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  6. The last block makes it. I love his hair !!!
    You just made a wonderful job and I enjoyed every post about it. And your musicknowledge is impressive.
    Hope to see some more blocs (and to read about those instruments)
    Regards
    Jeanine

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  7. Wow! Wow! Wow! This is just beautiful. Your talents are simply amazing. What a journey, thank you for sharing.

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  8. Teresa, you amaze me. SERIOUSLY, you get more done in a week than I do in an entire year. I have so enjoyed seeing each and every block that you've come up with and also learning about the instruments. I think it's safe to say that these blocks are going to sell out! Great job, my friend. :)

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  9. Just terrific! It is sure to be an award winner!

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  10. Teresa, you've blown this one out of the water! Truly fantastic. Congratulations!

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  11. Wow, wow, wow. Looks fabulous all together!!

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  12. Oh Teresa, the last block is wonderful. I love the information you have provided as well. Thank you for sharing such wonderful information about the orchestra. This would be an awesome way to teach young musicians about the orchestra.

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  13. OMG! And just when I thought it couldn't get better...a conductor, PERFECT!

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  14. Oh my goodness...I am speechless...almost! Your blocks are stunning! What a gorgeous quilt this will be...a legacy!

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  15. Beautiful, beautiful. I love your conductor block. BTW what are those little white 'candle-looking' objects sitting on the paper templates? I don't recall hearing about them before.

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  16. Teresa ,
    You have really out done your self this time! Love love your quilt and patten. You are so talented and I love to see you use this talent for both the music you love as well as quilting. I have already seen you efforts showing up on Pinterest.

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  17. I don't know what you mean by 'stay tuned' (seriously just kidding) I am glued to my seat--get it 'glued' (not literal, and really not that funny in print-lol)

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  18. Love the Conductor, and of course, those beautiful purple flowers. Such superb worksmanship. Absolutely stunning! Hooray!

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  19. Very pretty. It has been fun to see each block as you progress.

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  20. your conductor is perfect! it was wonderful to see all the blocks together.
    what a great design.

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  21. What better ending than with a 'cute' conductor!! It's FABULOUS darling, simple FABULOUS!!!

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  22. I have to tell you that I just LOVE your blocks! I'm a former band geek (jr. high and high school) who played the Bb clarinet and Bass Clarinet in the marching, symphonic and concert bands all the way through school. I can't wait until the patterns are available so that I can order them! What an awesome job you have done!

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  23. Have revisited this block as it is about to go off my reader 30 day hold. This whole quilt is just stunning. I would love to be able to show the folks at church this with all the explanations about the instruments that you included in your blogs.

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Thanks for stopping by the quilt cave...I love your feedback! I am sorry that I am no longer able to accept comments from "Anonymous" readers...it leaves the door open for too many spammers!