(Fr. baguette; Ger. Taktstock; It. bacchetta)
The stick with which the conductor of an orchestra or similar ensemble beats the time. An approximation of the modern baton, a thin, tapered stick, perhaps half a metre long, was evidently first used in the late 18th century, but the use of a roll of paper or violin bow for this purpose continued into the 19th century. A more distant predecessor of the baton was the precentor's staff mentioned by various writers from the 15th century to the 17th. For further historical information ...
John Spitzer, Leon Botstein, Charles Barber, and Jack Westrup
revised by Neal Zaslaw and José A. Bowen
(Fr. direction d'orchestreGer. DirigirenIt. direzione d'orchestra)
Modern conducting combines at least three functions: 1) the conductor beats time with his or her hands or with a baton in performance; 2) the conductor makes interpretative decisions about musical works and implements these decisions in rehearsal and performance; 3) the conductor participates in the administration of the musical ensemble. The word conducting acquired its present meaning in the 19th century, as the practice developed in its modern form. Conducting is largely limited to the tradition of Western art music, although other traditions have adopted the practice (e.g. Turkish art music, big band jazz).
The history of musical direction may conveniently be divided into three overlapping phases: the singer-timebeater (15th–16th century); the instrumentalist-leader (17th–18th century); the baton conductor (19th–20th century).
Conducting History to 1800.
Conducting History since 1820.
Conducting Technique.B. Grosbayne: A Bibliography of Works and Articles on Conductors, Conducting and Related Fields in Various Languages from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Time...