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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000057.txt from 2008/05

From: Audrey Travis <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Why not a tone like a slippery eel?
Date: Sat, 10 May 2008 15:00:41 -0400

Contrary to the almost automatic bashing (in this forum)of the use of
words like dark (tone) and caramel, I find meaning and usefulness in
these descriptions. These wods, and others such as chocolately, like
Belgian chocolate or choclatey with a cherry overtone, or spinning or
swirling evoke a context for me. While one person's understanding of
these words are clearly going to be individual and different from the
next person's, that is partially the point. No one's tone is identical
to someone else's, nor should it be. But if use of these words evoke
some meaning and help develop tone in a direction that is beautiful or
useful in some way for the player, then the use of these words has
value. I do not suggest that one can scientifically quantify the tone
colour by using descriptive words, but one perhaps may indicate a
useful direction towards tone colour useful or wanted in a particular
piece or even a passage.

Words, for me, are highly suggestive and creative. This is the point
of writing, speaking reading and hearing them. Each will understand
and perceive the same words differently, but they enrich our world and
our own creative minds. If they make even one musician move in a new
and (to that person) new direction, they then hold great value.

What is banal, trite or laughable to one may be the impetus for a
'light bulb' moment for another.

On 10-May-08, at 11:21 AM, Harold Smith wrote:

> Sorry the reviewer used "caramel" and other banal references. Yes,
> that is laughable, but as for the mentioning of Brahms' autumnal,
> wistful melancholia, I'd say if it got to the reviewer, then Brahms
> accomplished his objective. I'm a jazz guy, but I can't hear the
> Brahms without some deep soul searching.
> Regards.
> Harold
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Alexander Brash
> Sent: Saturday, May 10, 2008 12:40 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: [kl] Why not a tone like a slippery eel?
> The comparison of late Brahms with autumnal glow is new and original
> - an exciting metaphor I'm glad this writer has stumbled on for
> definitely the first time ever.
> (sarcasm)
> On May 10, 2008, at 1:32 PM, Lelia Loban wrote:
>> You think we've already got problems figuring out what "warm, dark
>> tone" means? Here's The Washington Post's current idea of an
>> appropriate review:
>>> It's a rare treat to hear Brahms's Clarinet Quintet
>>> and Piano Quintet in the same evening. But on
>>> Wednesday the Embassy Series brought an
>>> ensemble of local musicians to the German
>>> Embassy to perform these pinnacles of the
>>> chamber music repertoire.
>> [snip]
>>> The Clarinet Quintet (played first on the program)
>>> is characteristic of the composer's later years--
>>> suffused with nostalgia, melancholy and autumnal
>>> glow, its underlying heartache left unresolved in
>>> concluding bars that die away with a sigh. [snip]
>>> Clarinetist Suzanne M. Gekker, though overemphatic
>>> in some of her phrasing, caressed Brahms's writing
>>> with a tone that was like a ribbon of caramel.
>> --Joe Banno, "Embassy Series: Brahms Quintets," The Washington
>> Post, Friday, May 9, 2008, Style section, p. C11. The full review
>> is available online at
>> Gosh, that caramel must have made an awful mess of the sheet music,
>> not to mention the clarinet. Didn't the pads stick? What sort of
>> reed should I use--and what swab should I buy for cleaning out the
>> instrument later--if I aspire to caress Brahms's pinnacle with that
>> caramel tone? (Come to think of it, I'm not so sure Brahms would
>> want me to go caressing his pinnacle.) I wonder, too, what caramel
>> with an autumnal glow sounds like, and why a concert in May didn't
>> caress with springtime caramel instead? I've never heard a ribbon
>> of caramel sigh, either. Must've been an amazing concert.
>> Lelia Loban
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------
> ------------------------------------------------------------------
> ------------------------------------------------------------------


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