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The Full Works Concert with Rob Cowan 8pm - 10pm
5 July 2018, 12:46
After England’s thrilling and triumphant penalty shootout in the last-16 game against Colombia during the World Cup in Russia, manager Gareth Southgate showed off his musical credentials by conducting the remaining fans as they sang.
Video footage of the conducting has been made available, so we’re poised to analyse his technique. Let's do this.
Although there’s not much to go on, Southgate is able to beat time with consistency and declamatory gestures. He appears to have opted for a simple 2/4 beat, popular with marching bands, and it is an efficient display. We’d go so far as calling it competent.
If Southgate found himself with Gurre-Lieder or a Berlioz symphony in front of him, that 2/4 beat probably isn’t going to cut it, but we can certainly see him making it through a Sousa march quite comfortably.
Unfortunately this is a big one. The crowd seem to be chanting ‘No mum, I’m not coming home’, a now-popular terrace refrain among fans, but the tempo at which they’re clapping along is wildly different to Southgate’s clearly marked beat. But who’s in the wrong?
Because Southgate began conducting after they’d started chanting, we’d argue it was his responsibility to go with their tempo initially, bring them under control and then adapt to his own artistic ends by gradually slowing them down. Instead, he just went straight in with his plodding 2/4 and gave up.
If he were to conduct an orchestra or choir, it would be an unruly display. Southgate’s style and misunderstanding of tempo suggests that he wouldn’t be able to deal adequately with changes in tonal colour or any hint of rubato. He’s by no means a lost cause, but we’d think twice about letting him loose on a professional ensemble unless they’d been properly briefed.
But, somehow, there is hope. His dogged, workmanlike commitment to maintaining a solid beat (regardless of its speed) is inspiring. Give him a military band and a folder of Sousa marches. Watch him rip through five minutes of oompah without once deviating from the initial tempo. A blunt instrument he may be, but Southgate’s got it where it counts.