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 Advice on playing Klezmer?
Author: Jaysne 
Date:   2012-11-18 22:05

So I'm going to play the lead clarinet book in Fiddler in a couple of months. It has a few nice Klezmer-style solos.

I've learned clarinet mainly in a traditional classical style, though I've played some dixieland as well. I've listened to some Klezmer and have a good idea of how it's supposed to sound. As I was practicing today, I would alternate between a looser then tighter embouchure than normal, and incorporated some scoops (starting flat and then bringing up to pitch) as well as occasional growling (humming while blowing). Basically, I'm trying to imitate what I've heard Klezmer guys do.

Can any real Klezmer players give me some ideas about how to make my playing sound authentic? Thanks.

Post Edited (2012-11-18 22:24)

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 Re: Advice on playing Klezmer?
Author: Ralph Katz 
Date:   2012-11-22 09:51

Scoops and slurs, krechts, and grace notes are all parts of the picture, but there is no "Klezmer canon". Any 2 players will have definite, unique aspects to their playing, but at the same time there will also be more-or-less typical things they will both do.

Imitation is a good start. Listen to players you like, and try to incorporate some things they do into your playing.

I could tell you to not over-do it, but then there will be people who tell you to go for it. Just what you do will depend on what your music director wants. You want to add to the music, not detract from it.

Hope this helps, from a distance.

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 Re: Advice on playing Klezmer?
Author: personwithaclarinet 
Date:   2013-11-07 01:12

I just wanted to say thanks to Ralph Katz because I came onto this forum in a really similar situation to Jaysne's and found the above reply helpful.

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 Re: Advice on playing Klezmer?
Author: Ralph Katz 
Date:   2013-11-07 01:54

Dear Jaysne and Person,

Especially when I can be completely vague, it is always a pleasure to help.

And, from someone who has purposefully avoided at least a half dozen productions of Fiddler (including one directed by my uncle,) I hope you had fun.



Post Edited (2013-11-07 01:55)

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 Re: Advice on playing Klezmer?
Author: Tom Puwalski 
Date:   2016-09-26 06:27

John Moses, the clarinetist who played the original broadway production, went and studied with Dave Tarras. I would listen to a bunch of Dave Tarras recordings and the cast recording, though I don't believe the wedding dance sequence is on that. Play the wedding dance until you're not looking at the music, don't do anything that you "think" is klezmery and really play the ink. It worked for Perlman in "From the Fidler's house."

Tom Puwalski, author of The Clarinetist's Guide to Klezmer and the play a long "Klezmer Boot Camp"

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 Re: Advice on playing Klezmer?
Author: genekeyes 2017
Date:   2016-12-18 04:31

The original part had very little(if any) indication as to how to play the part. Try to get a copy of the original cast recording...........listen and try to imitate the the style and doesn't have to be was probably never played exactly the same way twice.

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 Re: Advice on playing Klezmer?
Author: fromsfca 2017
Date:   2019-06-01 15:52

I play klezmer, and just finished a run of Spamalot, which has an extended klezmer clarinet solo (you can’t succeed on Broadway if you haven’t any Jews.

Listen to davey Tara’s, and Naftule Brandwein. Also listen to current klezmer clarinetists, David Krakhauer and Andy Statman (who received Daveys clarinets, upon Daveys passing).

I use scoops into notes, wide vibrato and loosen my embouchure to get a more honky tonk sound.

Also, Broadway is not a klezmer gig. Be judicious in your use of klezmer style. Fit the sound and style to what’s happening on stage. When Tevye bids farewell to his daughter (Far From the Home I Love) is not the time to play klezmer, as an example.

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 Re: Advice on playing Klezmer?
Author: Ralph Katz 
Date:   2019-09-07 15:07

A friend just gave me two Klezmer recordings from un-named European country. I actually listened to 75% of the tunes, but had to stop.

I suppose that imitation is the greatest form of compliment. It took a lot of effort to put together two full CD's. They are all highly skilled musicians.

My strongest feelings are about the apparent lack of any Jews involved in this effort. Especially, all the Jews in their country were driven out and killed in the 1940's. In this context, given current musical tastes, no distinction can be made between a genuine liking for the music and the desire to make money.

The glissandi and other effects are over-done and do not especially add to the music. This was personal music when it was initially performed - the tunes were more important than the ornaments. It is especially sad to me when this relationship is reversed, and the ornaments become more important.

They sing in Yiddish, and it is professionally done, but pretty dry. These are trained concert singers, and their pronunciation is good, but it is not their music nor language, and something is missing. Some of the singing, though, was intentionally "hick", which is borderline offensive to me.

Having said this, a couple of tunes on these recordings were pretty clever and catchy. But the overall effect, for me, was depressing, and I had to stop listening.

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 Re: Advice on playing Klezmer?
Author: sdr 
Date:   2019-12-16 19:15

Suggest you take a look at Robin Seletsky's YouTube channel for some very clear lessons on echniques used in the klezmer idiom.


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