Difference Between Composer and Conductor (With Table)

Composers and conductors both can be related to music. At best, both of them find it hard to get one another and at worst, both can be open warfare and disdain. Therefore, the more popular a conductor becomes, the more he wishes to limit his associations to one type of composer.

Composer vs Conductor

The main difference between conductors and composers is that a composer arranges and writes music for bands, films, television or orchestra. Compositions could be their own or according to the client’s specification. While a conductor leads the musical batch during recordings or performances. He maintains the tempo of the orchestras during its performances.

A music composer is a person who expresses their work in the form of a written musical score utilizing musical notation. He directs the music and arranges musical count for anything that needs a soundtrack. The count needs to be technically right for making flawless performances by musicians, instrumental ensembles or choruses.

On the other hand, a conductor basically is a person who directs a chorus, an orchestra, ballet, Opera Company or any other musical batch in a performance. At the most basic level, a conductor basically stresses the melodious pulse to make all the performers follow the same musical rhythm.

Comparison Table Between Composer and Conductor

Parameters of Comparison




Write and arrange musical compositions in various styles.

Select musical pieces to perform in concerts and places


No specific training required.

Need professional guidance.

Working Environment

Might work in studios, their own place, or in an office.

Spend most of their time travelling for performances.

Working genres

All genres.

All genres, excluding rock.

Connection with lyricists

May works with lyricist when composing lyrics for a song.

Has nothing to do with a lyricist. Works entirely on instrumental pieces.

What is Composer?

A composer makes original music by creating notes into concertos, musical accompaniments for TV shows and movies, and songs. Professional composers usually have a history of performing either as a player in the orchestra, singer in choir or performer on an instrument.

They might rearrange existing music compositions into new ones for various instruments collections. A composer is specialized in many styles like rock, jazz or classical. Many composers work with playwrights or lyricists to make musical compositions, while few turn trainers in educational institutions.

Composers merging with others might own standard work schedules, while the self-workers set their own working hours. You don’t need to have any prior education for composing music. A composer can search for a job by recording their music composition and then showing them to singers, bands, production companies, agents and others.

All a composer need is music talent, continuity for submitting music compositions, discipline to sharpen their skills, and interacting skills as a performer.

Many composers also work as freelancers. The workflow for such composers is pretty unpredictable. They might focus on learning about various music styles and work on music instrument(s). During busy hours they might work for hours and weeks with undivided attention to meet the agents’ deadlines.

What is Conductor?

Conductors are considered to be a bit eccentric extroverts. With big instruments, he serves to unite a group’s sense of beat, feel and tempo. Also, conductors are bound by various protocols to that of a choir. The demands and expectations from a conductor diversify with the performers’ abilities they direct.

They lead the group by being in centre and front in full display, moving their hands around in a rhythm to direct the performers. Their gestures convey energy, emotions and dynamics to its group and to the audience they’re performing for.

A music conductor possesses a number of skills. He owns an ear to hear the overall music of the band. He also reads and analyzes orchestra and comprehends music very quickly from the music sheet.

In technical terms, a conductor has a clear pattern of beats which they can modify to provide clear upbeats. For a 3-beat pattern, a conductor moves its baton or hand in a triangle motion, while for a 4-beat pattern, the movement is a bit more complex.

A successful music conductor brings out the best music from the performers and encourages and guides them through any dynamic change smoothly.

Main Differences Between Composer and Conductor

  1.  A composer is someone who writes original pieces of music, while a conductor is someone who directs the music piece created by the composer.
  2. A composer can work as a freelancer or work for a music company. As for a conductor, they solely work as performers under music companies or agents.
  3. No prior educational qualification is needed to be a composer. As for a conductor, proper training is required.
  4. A composer can compose music for all genres- from classical to rock. While a conductor works mainly on the classical music genre and mostly excludes the rock genre from its list.
  5. A composer meets with musical groups, orchestras and people who show interest in commissioning their musical piece. On the other hand, a conductor attends meetings with fundraisers and potential donors.


Composers and conductors are both connected with the music industry. The former creates music piece while the latter is concerned with performing and direction. With that, the connection between them is a pretty uneasy one and is kind of charged with a number of musical and physiological tensions.

This strained connection is inevitable and most probably always exists. In former times, the role of a composer and a conductor usually merged in one individual, which might not have decreased the problem but undeniably consolidated it.

Live composers want to identify their music piece played as they’ve written and had a trait of speaking from the hall while rehearsing. While live conductors stand as a vital kit for showing the music with clarity with its gesture using their hands or baton for performers.

Both music composers and conductors, are great career options from a musician’s perspective and holds equal importance and place in the music industry. One just needs to choose according to their interest.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ipnrAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=conductors+and+composers&ots=Zu881FDS6H&sig=GK9-Y2ZUfxbmlOnuZnsJhQSvKPQ
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/765701