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Cheironomy

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Cheironomy

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Cheironomy is the use of hand signals to direct vocal music performance.

Early music (vocal church music), as far back as the 5th century, required some central direction from a leader in the coordination of singers in their delivery of melodic lines of mostly free rhythm. Traced back to early Egyptian performances through hieroglyphic documentation (etchings in stone depicting a leader employing hand signals to indicate pitch and rhythm details for wind instrument players), this form of conducting seems to predate Guido of Arezzo's designation of joints of the fingers for indicating pitches, and seems to have offered more than limited pitch instruction. These early leaders, or cheironomers, though possessing none of the modern conducting skills developed in the 17th century, using a form of choreographed hand signals, adeptly controlled the movement of the melodic lines, producing incredibly well-synchronized performances.

Cheironomy, though not a commonly used term in today’s reference to conducting, serves, as it did in early music, as the model for the motions necessary to direct some modern music which require individualized direction to specific players, within less metrically structured musical compositions. It is still in use the liturgy of some Middle Eastern sects and in synagogues to direct the singing of liturgical songs (Hebrews probably learned cheironomy with Egyptians), and, more rarely, in some ancient Western religions.

Jewish religious cheironomy can also be found as mnemonic signs on scrolls in Hebrew, hanging above the text to be sung, in order to guide the cantor in his rendition of religious songs.

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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