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 Klezmer: How to start?
Author: contragirl 
Date:   2005-05-20 09:11

I'm sure there has been a bunch of these questions here, but this is my first time on the ethnic board!

I was wondering about how to get into playing Klezmer. I have mastered what I call the "nasty noises," which are translated very well into klezmer-ish sounds. I have good control into squeek tones and bends and such, but when it comes to improv, I am so lost. Also, since I am not Jewish, my knowledge of klezmer and traditional Hebrew songs is lacking. :(

I have downloaded some Klezmer and I am trying to mimic some of the melodies, but I feel like I am just being a mockingbird redoing what is already done. But is this how one starts? If I were to find a teacher, could this kind of thing be taught?

Oh, and I've been playing this all on Eb and Bb clarinets. I am otherwise classically trained on all clarinets.

Thanks!
Contragirl

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: Christian Dawid 
Date:   2005-05-20 09:39

Hi,

klezmer isn't so much about improvisation in the sense of inventing new melodies. It is, at least as long as still connected with 'traditional' vocabulary, much more about variation and ornamentation, which of course are ways of improvising. Sure, a good teacher can help you find your own style, and musical freedom within that style. Otherwise ask your money back...
Where are you located?
I know some folks out there.

Christian

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: kfeder@hotmail.com 
Date:   2005-05-20 19:37

I studied klezmer with a clarinet teacher with a klezmer background. Two of the key things to learn are when to trill and when to bend notes. There is a good video by Andy Statman on how to play Klezmer. If you listen to a lot of klezmer recordings you will start to get a feel for the meldodies and when to trill. For classic klezmer take a look at recordings of Naftule Brandwein. For contemporary klezmer the Klezmer Conservatory Band is great.



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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: kfeder@hotmail.com 
Date:   2005-05-20 19:52

P.S. contragirl, this is a little off topic, but since you have experience with bass clarinet I wanted to ask you about how to get started with bass clarinet playing. Is it difficult to transition to bass from soprano? I thought that it might be fun to play bass with my amateur klezmer group. Are there any good entry level bass clarinets that you have experience with that you can recommend? I see there is a Yamaha and Vito resonite available. Do you know of any resources for bass players in the Los Angeles area?

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: Ralph Katz 
Date:   2005-05-21 00:09

There was an article in the New York Times in the last year about the Klezmer revival happening in eastern europe, without Jews. While a lot of people are disturbed by this trend, remember that imitation is the best form of flattery. Someone said the clarinet is "the electric guitar of the klezmer band", so there are opportunities here you won't find anywhere else. Go for it.

There is no standard for this music. If you listen to recordings of famous Klez clarinetists (Dave Tarras, Naftule Brandwein, Geora Feidman, etc.) one of the first things that strikes you is just how differently they are in their style, approach to the music, and their sounds. If doesn't validate a diversity of approach, I don't know what does.

1) Check out your public library for recordings, listen, and play along with them.

2) Get "The Compleat Klezmer" from Tara Publications with the accompanying CD, and play all the tunes.

3) Find someone else to play with, a fiddle, a piano, a guitar, anybody, and play!

Regards

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: contragirl 
Date:   2005-05-21 06:02

hehe thanks everyone.

I live in the DC area. I actually have a great klezmer playing friend, but he is very busy and I'm too scared to ask for help. :P

Bass clarinet wasn't a problem for me to start playing, but I had switched to playing contralto in 6th grade, and from there moved to playing the others (alto, Eb, contrabass, etc). The main problem I see that my soprano clarinet playing friends have is with the mouthpiece. I think that it is easier for a doubler to have a more closed mpc when they are switching to bass. Since I play low clarinets more, I am used to a very open mpc, but none of my Bb clarinet friends can play my mpc! lol. But it is fun to play. If you get one, and sit down with it, I think you wouldn't have a problem getting used to it. :)

Personally, I think Bundys can be better than Vitos. Yamaha might be better than both (but I won't admit that cuz I have a thing against Yamaha. haha) Now if you want to really get in to bass, get yourself a nice low C model bass. *drool* I love the Selmers, but the Buffets are good too.

Anyway, for just starting out, any student model would work great for learning on. You just have to make sure that it is in good shape, that it is adjusted and all. If there is one thing wrong with a bass clarinet, it could make your playing suffer, then you'd think it's you and it wouldn't be. Also, the larger the clarinet, the easier it is to become out of adjustment.

My klezmer friend I mentioned is also a beast on bass clarinet, so he breaks out the klezmer on bass clarinet (and alto clarinet on a few occassions) lol

--Contragirl

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: Christian Dawid 
Date:   2005-05-21 17:08

>an article in the New York Times in the last year about the Klezmer revival happening in eastern europe, without Jews.<

Hey Ralph,

you mean the Jeremy Eichler article? That was more about Germany (again) and the Weimar klezmer weeks. As for Western Europe, the revival is pretty non-Jewish for the most part, but in Russia and Ukraine it's definitely mostly Jews who explore klezmer music. In general it blends more and more, which is a good thing, I think. (Well, what can you say with a crossover name like mine...?) :-)

Christian Dawid

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: Christian Dawid 
Date:   2005-05-21 17:11

>DC area<

Contact Tom Puwalski. You'll find his info on the klezmershack, under klezcontacts.

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: contragirl 
Date:   2005-05-21 18:11

Tom Puwalski IS my Klezmer friend. :)

He's crazy good. And he is actually the one that refaced my bass clarinet mouthpiece. We go to school together. lol

--CG

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start? on Bass Clarinet???
Author: Low_Reed 
Date:   2005-05-22 20:21

Klezmer on bass clarinet? Sounds fun! I'm always looking for new musical experiences to explore with my trusty friend, a resonite Yamaha YCL221 bass clarinet to low Eb. So a few weeks back, I ordered "Ten Klezmer Duos" for clarinet, by Mike Curtis. I hope to explore this book with another Minneapolis / St. Paul bass clarinet player (and/or record one line and play solo duets with my alter ego!)

I highly recommend the Yamaha YCL221. I am an amateur player and professional enthusiast, who bought this horn and fell in love, after a 30-year break. Please see http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/bass-clarinet/message/10308, and follow the threads, for more good words about this fine BC.

-- Bruce

**Music is the river of the world!**
-- inspired by Tom Waits and a world full of music makers


Post Edited (2005-05-22 20:26)

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: beavertoof 
Date:   2005-05-24 19:22

I recently got this and really like it...I dunno how 'legit' it is as I am a klezmer newby, but it seems like the real thing to me.


Easy Klezmer Tunes
by Stacy Phillips

prod #
98980BCD $24.95

[ Please just use the link rather than repeating the same information here. Mark C. ]

link:
http://www.melbay.com/product.asp?ProductID=98980BCD&Heading=Clarinet+%28All%29&category=C14%2C+B01&catID=34&head1=&head2=Clarinet&sub=1&sub1=&mode=browse

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: archer1960 
Date:   2005-06-13 14:22

"P.S. contragirl, this is a little off topic, but since you have experience with bass clarinet I wanted to ask you about how to get started with bass clarinet playing. Is it difficult to transition to bass from soprano? I thought that it might be fun to play bass with my amateur klezmer group. Are there any good entry level bass clarinets that you have experience with that you can recommend? I see there is a Yamaha and Vito resonite available. Do you know of any resources for bass players in the Los Angeles area?"

I'm not ContraGirl, but I started out on soprano, and switched directly to bari sax, back to soprano and then to contra-bass cl when I switched school districts in HS, and had no significant problems. I wasn't a particularly good player (due largely to lack of practice), so perhaps the habits and finger movements weren't as deeply ingrained as they would have been for a better player. The biggest adjustment was just in the amount of air the instrument took compared to the soprano, but I've always been something of a windbag so it wasn't a problem, just an adjustment <Grin>. I would say that the bari sax and c-b cl were about the same in that respect.

It was certainly a constant battle keeping the instrument in adjustment so that the keys closed properly, but I managed.

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: Ralph Katz 
Date:   2005-06-14 02:28

Christian,

Yes, here is the article "Klezmer's Final Frontier" by Jeremy Eichler. Sunday August 29, 2004. You bet. But then, there are plenty of Balkan bands with no members of Balkan heritage. My dad played in an Italian heritage band. There is no ethnicity that has a lock on its own music! Ha!

Sorry I missed you at Klez Kamp. Maybe this year. Gotta convince the rest of the crew.

Regards,

Ralph

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: claclaws 
Date:   2005-06-27 01:36

I'm new here too,and this is my first posting.
However, I enjoy "Pinkus and the pig" practically every time we go on a trip, because my two boys -aged 10 and 8- just LOVE the tune so much.
They don't get bored with the CD.
This Christmas, I vow to buy the carol album of the same artists.

Thanks, Contragirl, for the question, and others for your inputs.
The book Beavertoof recommend seems what I need. I think I'll buy it.

Lucy Lee Jang


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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: Tom Puwalski 
Date:   2005-09-15 02:17

The first thing that one needs to when learning how to play klezmer or any style of music is the "Why" You need to know why you want to do it, because just thinking it would be cool won't carry you through the work that it takes to get good at it. So here is Tom's list of "Whys"

1. Rock and Roll + Guitar, Jazz= saxophone, Classical, Sorry guys, = Piano&violin. Klezmer is about the Clarinet! I don't care home many tours Pearlman goes on playing it.

2. you have to have chops to play it, you need a great embouchure, and really clean technique to do it right. So you really do still have to keep practicing all the other good clarinet stuff

3. I think you get to develop you " Singing voice" on the clarinet, this style of vocal playing, will put you right in the mix with a good string quartet on the Mozart

4. The gigs, oh the gigs! To be at the vortex of an incredibly great party be it a wedding or Bar mitsva, and to realize that you are why people are dancing that makes you feel great

5. The money! A few years back I got called to play some gig with the Balto smyphoney, a pops gig or something. It payed a third of what I would make playing klezmer!

The only thing wrong with playing klezmer is eating tons of catered Koser food!

But if you really want to learn, I tell people in my book: get the Dave Tarras King of Klezmer, and the Naftule Brandwein cd they have at every Borders and listen to them, learn a tune try playing it exactly like they did. The first one will take forever, the second one will take half of forever. Buy the time you hit the 6-7 tune you be amazed at how easy it's starting to get.

In my book I've transcibed a bunch of the tunes off those 2 CDs, and I describe the process that I and anyone else that really plays klezmer learned to do it.


Tom Puwalski, former Principal clarinetist with US Army Field Band, author of "The Clarinetists Guide to Klezmer" and clarinetis with "The Atonement" The hottest Klezmer band on the east coast!

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: contragirl 
Date:   2005-09-15 20:00

Heeeey Tom!

Are those books available now? They have them at a bookstore, or do I order from you.

I've always wanted to learn klezmer. It seems so natural for the clarinet! I can control my squeek tones and scoops enough that it would be nice to actually use them in a musical style. I still need to work on my overall clarieting technique, but I like playing klezmer so far. I just need to learn the melodies and stuff. :)

I hope to talk to you soon.
--contragirl (aka Bonnie)

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 Re: Klezmer: How to start?
Author: Bass 
Date:   2005-10-03 18:18

I am not a Klezmer player, but I bought the Andy Statman on how to play Klezmer video, he is awesome, the video is very educational, maybe more inspiring than a teaching video.

Bass

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