Definition and background:
Arm and hand movements by the conductor that create patterns to communicate to the performers the specific beat of the music. These "patterns" aid the performers in proper execution of the music. The common conducting patterns are 2- beat, 3- beat, 4- beat, and 6- beat although there are many others used for special purposes.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary