What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
With rendition switcher


Question: Explain some of the basic motions that you use to indicate how people should play.

Alan Gilbert: The basic premise of conducting is that you have to give a beat before the sound.  So if I want a sound to happen... say if we're counting one, two, three, four, boom... and something happens on the next "one," so if we're counting in four: one, two, three, four, one, two, three... If something happens on the next 'one,' then I would have to make a motion starting on "four."  So I'll count... I go one, two, three, four, one.  So I start at the gesture before.  Anything that happens, you have to indicate it, you have to start indicating it a beat before.  That's the basic premise.  There are more subtleties that can come into play, but essentially you show things a beat before they happen.  So if something happens on 'three' – one, two, three, four, one, two, three.  I alter my gesture on 'two' in order to show that something is gonna happen on the next 'three' or on 'four' I go one, two, three, four—I just give a little bit extra impetus on "four."

Then, the next level is the quality of sound.  If you want it to be a sharp decisive sound, then you give a more sharply defined, more decisive gesture.  So one, two, three, four, one – you give more impetus.  Or if you want a softer sound one, two, three, four, one -you can give a more gentle sound.  Or if you want to show that... you can use the left hand to show that you want more.  There's the time that's going on, but within the gesture, you can alter also the quality of sound.  If the arm is very, very... if you fill it with intensity, the sound will tend to be more active and more rich.  And if you allow the arm to be lighter and weightless, that is also reflected in the sound.

So those are the basic things... just showing the time.  Events have to be shown one beat before.  Then the quality of sound on those events can be affected by the speed of the gesture, the intensity of the gesture, and also the texture, if you will, of the body itself.

Recorded on June 18, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman


How to Conduct an Orchestra

Newsletter: Share: