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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000808.txt from 1998/04

From: Labadorf <>
Subj: Re: Re: wind instruments and circus tricks
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998 23:11:38 -0400

In a message dated 4/15/98 8:53:28 PM, you wrote:

>As one who studied with Charlie for several years I have heard him criticised
>as a "trickster" by many. In general my opinion has been that those who hear
>him that way fall into two categories: 1. They are simply not listening, or
>They are too jealous of his skills to be objective. Again, my opinion - while
>he can do things technically with the clarinet that no one else can, he is
>a mere circus performer. He brings a level of historical knowledge,
>understanding and emotional depth to music making which is seldom matched by
>performer on any instrument. So much for my defense of a great artist.

I agree with Andy's comments regarding the two catagories of listeners and
Charlie Neidich. I think it's a stretch to associate the word "trickster" or
"circus act" with the combination of Schumann's beautiful Romances and a great
artist like Neidich.

I would like to add another set of catagories to the circular breathing issue:
that is the two types of performers who use the circular breathing technique.
1) The performer who uses it as a circus act such as performing Paganini
Perpetual motion, et al, and 2) the performer who uses it as a tool to bring
out a musical idea. As a circular breather, I admit to falling into catagory
1). When I first learned, I became quite proficient at it - as second nature
as taking a regular breath. This led to laziness in terms of phrasing
interpretation and taking deep breaths for good tone production. Now that I
am a little more mature about this, I have to work at taking regular breaths
again, but I appreciate have the technique to play extra long phrases without
angst and to get me out of poor planning jams.

The important operative word in my point is "tool." Circular breathing is not
an end, but a means. There is no question that a few phrases in the vast
musical world can be longer than can be performed by a single breath.
Especially in transcriptions from other instruments like Schumann Romances,
but also in the clarinet repertoire e.g. Pines of Rome third movement. These
are the cases when circular breathing can really come in handy, and not as a
circus act.

Dan mentions the problem of hearing the sound of the "snort" and the
psychology of the listener who _wants_ to hear a regular breath. The "snort"
is a problem that should be eliminated. And, I have heard of accounts of
listeners gasping for the performer on stage in empathy - something like
watching a person drowning. These two aspects should be considered when
working out phrasing. Ideally, no one should know the performer is circular

Tom Labadorf

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