I hope this question is appropriate on this SE. Maybe it's a bit of a trivia but somehow I see it as part of music history.

So Glenn Gould's humming is notorious and does not need to be discussed. What I would like to know (and I could not find any testimony about this) is if it did bother the musician sitting more or less close to him during live concerts.

I wonder if other musician may have found that distracting or annoying during practice or even more so during the real concert. Somehow it's a thought that made me very curious and I wonder if anyone has some reference to share about this.

  • 2
    For what it's worth, if you're Glenn Gould, you can probably do whatever you want and get away with it! Oscar Peterson of jazz piano fame vocalized all his improv riffs as he played with the trio, and I have yet to hear of anyone who played alongside him complaining. If I did such things while I played, people would look at me as if I'd grown a third eye, but I'm not Gould or Peterson.
    – Kevin H
    Nov 2, 2018 at 3:18
  • I get the impression that he mainly played solo pieces in recording studios; perhaps someone else knows more.
    – PJTraill
    Dec 6, 2018 at 23:55

2 Answers 2


Our accordion player hums if he’s playing a tune he’s not confident on and that can be very distracting.

If it’s distracting in a fairly informal musical performance setting, I’d suspect that it was a whole magnitude more distracting in a formal classical performance!

  • Yeah that's why I was curious to know if someone had some reference or knew some anecdote from musicians who played in Gould's concerts. I also suspect it might have been bothering in such occasions.
    – Tommy
    Nov 2, 2018 at 5:44

Some conductors hum, sing, and yell during performances. I’ve never heard of anyone ever saying anything about that kind of thing. I say go for it, and say it don’t spray it..

  • But do those conductors ever hum, sing, or yell anything informative for the players (e.g. "Stop rushing!")?
    – Dekkadeci
    Nov 1, 2018 at 23:42
  • Do you have any examples?  Having attended (and performed in) many concerts, I can't recall a conductor ever yelling or making a loud noise; and only a few (all amateur) where a conductor sang along with one of the choir parts.
    – gidds
    Jan 19 at 16:27

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