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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000215.txt from 2007/12

From: Fred Jacobowitz <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Legato Finger Motion
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2007 13:23:40 -0500

Good lord, are we that far gone that we care more about =
technical =20
issues such as the occasional finger pop and "perfect" tone than =20
musicality, phrasing and total musical conception????? I say to =20
everyone: When you can play with even a fraction of the musicality of =20=

someone like Morales, THEN you can quibble about technical minutiae.
One reason that classical music has ossified is that the players =
themselves have become so wrapped up in technique that the actual =20
phrasing, color and musicality is given short shrift (if any at =20
all!). I can't remember when someone on this list has reviewed a =20
concert and talked about being moved by emotional, musical playing. I =20=

once played a recording of a few clarinetists for some string players =20=

(professionals all). They were universally bored by all the big names =20=

except Drucker, who most on this list dismiss as having an "ugly" =20
sound. I've been told again and again by singers that clarinetists =20
don't 'sing' (read: play musically).
And the ridiculous cattle calls we call auditions don't help =
because =20
they usually reward the lowest common denominator: The person who =20
offends the audition panel the least. (Ditto for those international =20
competitions.) All too often, the result is that the conductor, whose =20=

priority is musicianship, not technique, is dissatisfied and choses =20
nobody, so the auditions are held again.
Don't think that this has no effect. Those who get the jobs =
teach =20
the next generation of orchestra players and conservatory and =20
university music faculty. Do you think musicality is really =20
emphasized? Or is winning an audition (in which musicality is often =20
not an issue) the focus of the training?
I know it is easier to discuss concrete issues like technique, =
and =20
basic issues like breathing and tonguing are fair game. But can we =20
maybe stop obsessing about our figurative navels? Honestly, what do a =20=

few finger pops (which you can't hear in a hall anyway - only in the =20
artificial situation of a recording!) and recorded tone quality, =20
which can be adjusted amazingly in a studio, really matter?

Fred Jacobowitz

Kol Haruach Klezmer Band
Ebony and Ivory Duo

You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note.
~Doug Floyd

On Dec 31, 2007, at 11:28 AM, K S wrote:

> A couple of months ago, I had an epiphany while studying the Gunlogson
> treatise on Stanley Hasty
> <
> unrestricted/EG_Treatise.pdf>.
> I was won over by Hasty's ideas on legato finger motion, which I had
> let pass by when I read about them from Bonade, Marcellus and Portnoy.
> At treatise pp. 124-127, Hasty describes how open holes on the
> clarinet make a true legato possible, in a way that it's not possible
> on the oboe with plateau keys. You close or open a hole slowly,
> without a "pop." You do this by balancing muscle tension in your
> fingers. You feel as if your finger motion continues down into the
> wood. When you raises a finger, it feels as if it comes out of the
> wood and continues up, binding consecutive notes together as if you
> were singing. You "squash" into it, as if your fingers were "moving
> in heavy oil."
> Hasty said that Ralph McLane did this "to the nth degree," making a
> legato "like liquid." When I listen to Larry Guy's fabulous McLane
> and Bonade excerpt CDs, I now hear their wonderful legato as well as
> their perfect technique, tone and phrasing.
> Contrast this with the otherwise amazing playing by Venancio
> Rius-Mart=ED in his performance of the Lovreglio Fantasia da Concerto.
> Go to <> and click on
> Recordings and then on the Lovreglio. I hear (and am bothered by) the
> constant clicks and pops as his fingers slap down.
> Listen again to Marcellus's Mozart Concerto. There's not a single
> finger pop as he moves from note to note.
> I also hear this in the performances by the great violinists.
> Heifetz, Stern, Kreisler -- they all bind their legato from note to
> note. In fact, they often slide from one note to the next with the
> same finger, and when they put down a different finger, they make, not
> a smear, but a liaison.
> I now think that this is one of the differences between clarinet
> players I like and don't like. I'm working on my scales in thirds all
> over again, to make the intervals "liquid" as well as clean.
> Who else has thought about this or is working on it?
> Ken Shaw
> ------------------------------------------------------------------


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