Conduction is a term invented by the trumpet/cornet and composer Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris. Below is his explanation.
Conduction®: The practice of conveying and interpreting a lexicon of directives to construct or modify sonic arrangement or composition; a structure-content exchange between composer/conductor and instrumentalists that provides the immediate possibility of initiating or altering harmony, melody, rhythm, tempo, progression, articulation, phrasing or form through the manipulation of pitch, dynamics (volume/intensity/density), timbre, duration, silence, and organization in real-time.
The orchestra’s starting point was Conduction and continues to form the basis of their performances.
A large ensemble of improvising musicians is a very different playing situation to a small group of 3 or 4. It can become more difficult to listen and respond to everyone. There might be a lack of space to develop your ideas, and with this dense texture, a high volume that leaves some of the quieter instruments unable to contribute.
Conduction is one answer to this that doesn’t involve notation and still gives the players the freedom to improvise. Conduction uses a conductor, who uses a series of signs and gestures known to the orchestra, which is then interpreted by the musicians to conduct the flow and energy of the music.
We find that using Conduction then informs our free improvisations, it helps us to think and improvise as an orchestra, collectively, and not only as a group of individuals. We also know from experience that it can produce some astounding, incredible, surprising, music.