top of page

A   D I C T I O N A R Y   F O R   T H E   M O D E R N   C O N D U C T O R


Titles in Dictionaries for the Modern Musician: A Scarecrow Press Music Series offer both the novice and the advanced artist key information designed to convey the field of study and performance for a major instrument or instrument class, as well as the workings of musicians in areas from conducting to composing. Unlike other encyclopedic works, contributions to this series focus primarily on the knowledge required by the contemporary musical student or performer. Each dictionary covers topics from instrument parts to playing technique, major works to key figures. A must-have for any musician’s personal library! Filling a vital need in the rapidly changing and complex field of conducting, A Dictionary for the Modern Conductor is a concise one-volume reference tool that brings together for the first time information covering a broad array of topics essential for today’s conductor to know. 

Author and conductor Emily Freeman Brown offers easy-to-read definitions of key musical terms, translated foreign terms, examples of usage from orchestral music and practical vocabulary in multiple languages. A Dictionary for the Modern Conductor includes biographies of major conductors and other individual important to the world of modern conducting, emphasizing throughout their contributions to the progress of the conducting professional; critical information on major orchestras, significant ensembles, key institutions and organizations, with a focus on the ways in which they preserve and advance today’s musical life; and practical entries covering baton and rehearsal techniques, bowing terms, information about instruments, voice types and much more. In a series of appendixes, A Dictionary for the Modern Conductor also covers such topics as orchestral works that changed the art and practice of conducting, a short historiography of conducting, a comprehensive bibliography, a look at conducting recitative, and a list of pitches, interval names, rhythmic terms, orchestral and percussion instrument names, and finally translations of all of these categories of information into French, German, Italian, and Spanish. 

A Dictionary for the Modern Conductor will appeal to aspiring conductors and seasoned professionals. It is an invaluable resource.


Art isn't easy, and neither is pulling it all together in modern musical conducting. Brown touches upon ‘as many aspects as possible’ relating to this topic, covering everything from the simple ‘a’ (the pitch that is sounded for tuning an orchestra) to influential conductors such as Jaap van Zweden, principal conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Included are eight appendixes covering conducting history; specifics on instruments, rhythm, and pitch; and an analysis of ‘Six Pieces That Changed Conducting,’ with musical chart excerpts included. Verdict: This volume offers a worthwhile symphonic exploration of the conductor’s craft.
Library Journal


[T]his new work by Brown offers many unique terms, revealing a trove of information about the practice and ethos of conducting. The entries vary in length from concise definitions to long entries for musical terms that have particular implications for conducting practice alongside substantial biographical-historical entries for prominent individuals, institutions, corporations, and publications. Especially interesting is the author's advice conveyed in exemplary entries such as ‘Conducting from memory,’‘Monteux's ‘Rules for Young Conductors,’’ or ‘Psychology of the conductor-orchestra relationship.’ Timely matters of technology and communication are also covered (e.g., ‘Blu-ray disc,’‘Google Play Books,’‘International Music Score Library Project,’ and the sensational ‘YouTube Symphony Orchestra’). The book's practical aspects are revealed in entries on instruments, listing their characteristics and ranges (including transposition tables for horn and trumpet), conducting gestures (illustrated by black-and-white drawings), and musical terms with cross-references for synonymous English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish concepts. Eight appendixes on historical and practical topics round out the volume. . . .[T]he volume makes a worthy addition to the personal collections of student and professional conductors and to libraries supporting music programs. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty; professionals/practitioners.



Emily Freeman Brown's Dictionary for the Modern Conductor is an astonishing document—the first to acknowledge and examine the vast skill requirements of the 21st century conductor. The book is a veritable cornucopia of information—from foreign terms to bowing techniques, from biographical sketches to little-known percussion instruments, from major works of music to rehearsal strategies—and much more. Brown has collected a lifetime of experience, scholarship and wisdom in a lavishly generous volume that will become indispensable.

JoAnn Falletta, conductor

bottom of page