Effect of Conductor Expressivity on Ensemble Evaluations by Nonmusic Majors

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In this study, the authors examined whether a conductor's use of high-expressivity or low-expressivity techniques affected evaluations of ensemble performances that were identical across conducting conditions. Two conductors each conducted two 1-minute parallel excerpts from Percy Grainger's Walking Tune. Each directed one excerpt using high- and one using low-expressivity techniques. After watching a video of the four conducting segments set to a single audio performance of the selection by a university wind ensemble, participants (N = 118) evaluated ensemble expressivity using a 10-point Likert-type scale. Half of the participants also rated the expressivity of the conductor using a second identical scale. Ensemble expressivity was rated significantly higher for the high-expressivity conductors; effect size was strong (partial η 2 = .57). Among participants evaluating both conductor and ensemble, there was a significant moderate correlation between ratings (r = .56).

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