How to Vent

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Reader Comments (36)

Choir conducting can be legitimate. The choir teacher at my high school spent a boatload of money and 5 years on his training. But yeah, in the case of average carolers though, it's probably not.

December 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHobosnake

I've had the same thought about conductors before.

December 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJesse

My conductor conducts with his middle fingers and sometimes I do the same back.

December 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKyle

I have often thought this about conductors as well.

December 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErnesto Fabuloso

Ive often thought the exact same thing...

December 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterY'Know


I've often thought the same thing...

December 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Thank god I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterotter

But metronomes make one of the more annoying sounds in the world...

and first? It's still a great feat to have no life first, right?

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTomtom

Good point made by the author that sometimes you need to vent.You need to somehow release your anger from you heart.But sometimes venting also increases the tension.So its better to keep your cool

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December 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbuy lyrica

:) good one

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDuric

Well done - very seasonal with the carols while still being interdenominationally inclusive. Afterall, the first part of Festivus is the airing of the grievances

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

LOVE the last panel, Scott-- the entire page is a work of inspired genius, as per usual!

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterscgvlmike

Frame 3 is awesome! I would also respect a mini lightsaber (damn inaccurate metronome).

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMikey

As a choral conducting student, I must say. Now that I've been given the idea, I'm going to give the choir the finger the next time the tenors forget their part.

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

Awesome comic! :)

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNick

Well, I'll skip over the bit where I point out everything that conductors actually CAN do to influence a performance in real time. Instead, I will ruefully agree that for many choirs (and probably 95%+ of choirs caroling at the mall), no-one will have their heads out of their music long enough to observe the time of day, let alone the conductor's vain ministrations. Well said, comic-man.

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Excellent! I've often felt the same way...

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMoses

> Studies show that venting actually makes you angrier, and is pointless.
> Like many pointless things, it is really satisfying.

See David Brin's "Open Letter to Researchers of Addiction, Brain Chemistry, and Social Psychology" (2005) about addiction to self-righteous indignation.

"While there are many drawbacks, self-righteousness can also be heady, seductive, and even... well... addictive. Any truly honest person will admit that the state feels good. The pleasure of knowing, with subjective certainty, that you are right and your opponents are deeply, despicably wrong. Sanctimony, or a sense of righteous outrage, can feel so intense and delicious that many people actively seek to return to it, again and again. Moreover, as Westin have found, this trait crosses all boundaries of ideology."

By "crosses all boundaries of ideology," I'm sure that Westin et. al. were referring only to people who disagree with me, and all of the other independent-minded correct-thinkers who share my opinions and world view.

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

Wow, just what i needed. I was just venting about a family member that stole something from me. Now i feel a little better, thanks Scott.

"Like many pointless things, it is really satisfying"
So true...

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWilson

Love the new pictures in the third panel. You do really great work. Keep it up! And Merry Christmas. :)

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaula

The conductor is useful in a large arrangement to make sure people on the far sides of the room can play at the same time without being able to hear each other over loud ass instruments. Otherwise, I agree, fuck that guy.

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJimi Pop

I created a conductor robot. It's a metronome with stern eyebrows painted on.

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterInnominate

Hahaha! "No, that I'd respect" You Star Wars geek.

December 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMoon

I grew up in a tiny tiny town, our choir instructor got the job because he was the only teacher in the school who could play a musical instrument. All things considered he did a decent job.

December 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterisiah

I always especially liked the "affectionately bemused" Missy pose from panel 2.

But regarding her posture in panel 3: she doesn't always stand like that, does she? I'd call a shoulder tilt as extreme as that a bonafide postural abnormality. If that's a regular stance for her to be in, she should maybe see a chiropractor or a massage therapist or something.

Just trying to be helpful. :P

December 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterYou've Got Red On You

I wonder if the conductor requires his girlfriend/spouse to refer to him as 'maestro'...

December 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbill

our high school band director once got dinged at a competition for directing in such a way that was too useful. It's just not done.

December 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commentereric u.

Soooo, I guess I would appreciate the other comments about the usefulness of some conductors, but I am somehow certain that this was written after seeing Shaq guest-conduct the Boston Pops. In which case it is not just funny but PERFECT.

December 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercassisu

It's weird how many people seem to have a beef with the conductor.

Answer me this: Would you REALLY expect a room full of 30-60 different people to manage to do something synchronized by themselves?

If you do, that's putting a dangerous amount of faith in human beings.

Besides, someone needs to wave angrily at the trumpets when they're supposed to start playing and stop sleeping (that's not a problem for a choir but hey, same difference).

December 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDanni

Go to a conductor's symposium sometime, and you'll see how a good conductor can drastically affect the way a good ensemble plays. Think of it as the difference between the performance of a live pianist and a player piano with the notes mechanically punched in exactly according to the original score, with no interpretation.

Very small groups can be conductor-less, but not big ones. It's been tried.

I thought the same thing as you once, but I've since realized that the conductor is artistically essential. The notes the musicians hold only provide PART of the info needed to play a piece well.

December 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEsn

Anyone who thinks conducting is easy should take a college-level conducting course.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commentervictimschoice

sure... with a professional level ensemble, or a top-notch amateur outfit, the direction of the conductor makes a difference. (although they _can_ also play the piece by themselves).

but... see... Scott wasn't talking about the London Philharmonic. He was talking about some choir he saw in a mall. He's probably right - I've been in non-top-notch amateur choirs, and the only thing we bothered paying attention to the conductor for was when to start and when to stop.

The other thing I've always thought is that the conductor also usually puts a lot of time preparing the group for performance, and in the case of amateur groups actually teaches them too, so if they want to look like a complete ponce all important out the front on the day, then it's their privilege, whether or not they make any functional difference to the performance.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterarc

In my experience, a conductor matters even more at performance time for amateur groups, since the trumpets are much more likely to forget everything they were yelled at about regarding dynamics during practice. Face it, trumpets need someone to make angry eyes at them to get them to quiet down any time they bring their horns to their faces.

And altos need someone to bug their eyes out and get them to use a little volume.

January 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJosh S

the conductor is extremely important to any music playing because they keep the chorus, band, orchestra whatever in check. they control the volume, the expression, and the speed. the only reason many four member bands do not have a conducter is because it does not require external help to regulate that many people

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commentera musician

Maybe I just always lucked out? In all the choirs I've ever been in (even the ones singing Christmas carols in public places!), the conductor was pretty much the soul of the performance. I could have walked in cold, knowing my notes and nothing else, and been able to keep up with the group just by watching the conductor.

Interestingly, I'm noticing in the comments, generally the people who agree/disagree with this comic divide up into those who have not been in a choir before, vs. those who have... might be indicative of something :)

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristy

I was in band for eight years. I'm pretty sure they only watch the conductor at the beginning for pace

March 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDestructicon
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