When I attended the Count Basie Orchestra concert last week, I saw the band leader, Bill Hughes, use some hand signals. I've always wondered what these musical hand signals meant. Did you know someone has provided an interpretation of these Musical Hand Signals."You often see musicians using signs to indicate key, solos, finishes etc. Here's some in common use but note that they can vary. A common technique for key indication is to use the appropriate number of fingers either up or down to indicate sharps or flats, e.g. the key of A having three sharps would require three fingers held up whereas F having one flat would require one finger pointing down."
"Those hand signals the band leader waves to his crew have always been a mystery to us...Here are the meanings of some of those signals, which seem to be universal since they came from musicians all over the world, with no objections: "
4 fingers down - key of Ab
3 fingers down - key of Eb
2 fingers down - key of Bb
1 finger down - key of F
Curved index finger and thumb - key of C
1 finger up - key of G
2 fingers up - key of D
3 fingers up - key of A
4 fingers up - key of E
2 fingers crossed - come in at the bridge or the 1/2
Patting the top of the head - go to ‘the head’ (first strain of the tune)
2 fingers sideways - go to verse Closed fist held up - this is the last chorus (take it out)
Closed fist with thumb up - next chorus will be a “fugue” with everyone out except the front line...Finger across throat - Finish
Musician nodding at bartender and holding up two fingers - make that a double! Audience holding fingers in both ears - less volume, please!
This will come in handy at trade shows. My competitors send me hand signals and I never knew what they meant