Jean-Baptiste Lully, a late Seventeenth century French court composer, conducted or rather lead his instrumental group with a large staff. This staff was lifted up and down in tempo, making a tapping noise. This ensemble leading was less conducting as we know it today and more of what the Germans call ‘tacht schlagging’ or time beating. Most ensembles were led from the continuo at the piano or harpsichord during much of the following two centuries. Modern conductors are generally said to have originated with Berlioz or the mid-nineteenth century. Conducting batons have been used from then on at the discretion of the conductor.

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