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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000218.txt from 2007/12

From: Adam Michlin <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Legato Finger Motion
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2007 15:52:44 -0500

Some thoughts...

Yes, I think we are so far gone that we care more about technical issues
than musicality. This makes me sad. I am not entirely convinced however,
that such things are any worse now than they ever were. Perhaps we are
just more aware of what is going on in the world of the music than ever
before and perhaps training has gotten so much better that we are, more
now than ever, able to have people who play so technically well and yet
lack the desire to play with musicality. Perhaps significantly more
people can afford to go to school and study music, or fly around on the
audition circuit. Perhaps our audiences are no longer educated enough to
hear the difference, thus making the point fairly moot. Perhaps the lack
of jobs has created unreasonable expectations on aspiring clarinetists
forcing them to choose between what is necessary to attain the job and
what is necessary to play music. I don't really know.

To me, it is a logical fallacy to assume that one must play like Ricardo
Morales to have the right to have an opinion about technical minutiae.
We might as well shut down the Klarinet list right now if such is to be
the criteria for people to be allowed to quibble!

However, I do not think that smooth finger movement is in any way
minutiae. I should add that I prefer the term smooth over term legato in
that legato connotates certain musical styles whereas smooth movement of
the fingers is relevant, at least in my experience, to all styles and
speeds of music. A semantic argument, perhaps. Nonetheless, I would
submit that Mr. Morales' musicality is, in part, based on such smooth
fingers. Furthermore, any study of the teachings of Daniel Bonade will
quickly dispel any thought that smooth fingers were taught for any other
purpose that in service of musicality, phrasing, and total musical
conception. It is easy to find fault with any singular teaching
philosophy, no matter how successful the teacher, when taken out of
context. The times I have heard Mr. Morales play live I very much hear
smooth fingers as part of the way he achieves his immense musical
communication. I like to think I hear the same on recordings, but I am
less and less convinced about the reality factor of recordings.

Finally, being able to move ones fingers smoothly and choosing not to
for reasonable musical reasons is very different than simply not being
able to play smoothly.


Fred Jacobowitz wrote:
> Good lord, are we that far gone that we care more about technical
> issues such as the occasional finger pop and "perfect" tone than
> musicality, phrasing and total musical conception????? I say to
> everyone: When you can play with even a fraction of the musicality of
> 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
> phrasing, color and musicality is given short shrift (if any at all!).
> I can't remember when someone on this list has reviewed a concert and
> talked about being moved by emotional, musical playing. I once played
> a recording of a few clarinetists for some string players
> (professionals all). They were universally bored by all the big names
> except Drucker, who most on this list dismiss as having an "ugly"
> sound. I've been told again and again by singers that clarinetists
> don't 'sing' (read: play musically).
> And the ridiculous cattle calls we call auditions don't help
> because they usually reward the lowest common denominator: The person
> who offends the audition panel the least. (Ditto for those
> international competitions.) All too often, the result is that the
> conductor, whose priority is musicianship, not technique, is
> dissatisfied and choses nobody, so the auditions are held again.
> Don't think that this has no effect. Those who get the jobs teach
> the next generation of orchestra players and conservatory and
> university music faculty. Do you think musicality is really
> emphasized? Or is winning an audition (in which musicality is often
> not an issue) the focus of the training?
> I know it is easier to discuss concrete issues like technique, and
> basic issues like breathing and tonguing are fair game. But can we
> maybe stop obsessing about our figurative navels? Honestly, what do a
> few finger pops (which you can't hear in a hall anyway - only in the
> artificial situation of a recording!) and recorded tone quality, which
> can be adjusted amazingly in a studio, really matter?


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