A 12 minute, fast-tonguing clarinet lesson, introducing various techniques and tricks for playing the most difficult clarinet passages in: Hector Berlioz “Nuits D’Été: L’Ile Inconnue”; and Felix Mendelssohn Scherzo, from his Incidental Music to the Midsummer Night’s Dream.
I demonstrate each passage using a combination of single and/or double-tonguing, with an occasional “hu” articulation. Using the “hu” articulation in certain spots is an unusual, but effective, way to help speed up and lighten single tonguing.
These orchestral excerpts are among the most difficult classical music to perform well, and the Scherzo is required on virtually every clarinet audition list.
Enjoy. (Below is a PDF of the difficult lick from Berlioz Nuit D’Été. I will post the Mendelssohn Scherzo excerpt in a few days.)
Berlios Nuite D’Ete, L’Ile Inconnu
This YouTube video was posted by DJKKGaGa. Wow. What a find. I love his orange clarinet. If anyone in New Orleans knows this guy or where he plays, let me know.
Every young clarinetist should be encouraged to learn to wail in such a vocal exuberant way. It’s better to harness this kind of joyful enthusiasm than try to create freedom of sound from within a prison of rules.
We had a great live concert tonight as part of our AEP Pops series.
It was an all Gershwin program entitled “The Gershwins- Here to Stay”, with my excellent colleagues of the Columbus Symphony, Peter Stafford Wilson conducting, and staring Kevin Cole on very Gershwinesque piano, Sylvia McNair (a Columbus native) on gorgeous vocals, and Ryan VanDenBoom on vocals and fantastic tap dancing.
Here is a video demonstration and tips on learning the famous opening clarinet solo in George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.
This past weekend the Columbus Symphony played a ring dinger of a piece, both musically and technically; the Schoenberg arrangement/transcription of the Brahms Piano Quartet Opus 25.
It’s like playing a Brahms symphony on Mahler steroids and sounding at times like a huge Bach Toccata.
This music presents daunting challenges, from intonation and balance issues due to the thick orchestration, to the numerous technically difficult licks.
In this video I demonstrate and offer practice tips on many clarinet excerpts from this gorgeous music.
The clarinet sheet music for the excerpts are below, if you wish to refer to them while watching the video. Enjoy and happy music making.
This sheet music page has the first two excerpts (opening melody and mms 33-37)-
Brahms Schoenberg Clarinet 1
This page has the third excerpt sixteenths descending in large skips-
Brahms Schoenberg Clarinet 2
This page has the second movement Intermezzo slinky clarinet solo-
Brahms Schoenberg Clarinet 3
This page has excerpts third movement Andante con Moto melody and the 32nds accompaniment excerpt (mms 877-879)-
Brahms Schoenberg Clarinet 4
This page has the gypsy melody which opens the last movement, and a very tricky lick which requires using “falsetto” fingerings (mms 877-879)-
Brahms Schoenberg Clarinet 5
This page has two of the gypsy dance runs with large skips-
Brahms Schoenberg Clarinet 6
This page has the third gypsy dance run in another key using the double side keys-
Brahms Schoenberg Clarinet 7
This page has the end of the Eb cadenza runs down, and the 1st clarinet cadenza solo right after that-
Brahms Schoenberg Clarinet 8
This page has the original Bb solo cadenza run which is transposed to A on the previous page, and the last statement of the gypsy sixteenths, this time double tongued (mms 1152-55)-
Brahms Schoenberg Clarinet 9
HAPPY HOLIDAYS! What better way to celebrate the season than to talk about The Nutcracker clarinet solos! Enjoy.
Tchaikovsky Nutcracker clarinet excerpt 1
Tchaikovsky Nutcracker clarinet excerpt 2
Tchaikovsky Nutcracker clarinet excerpt 3
Tchaikovsky Nutcracker clarinet excerpt 4
Tchaikovsky Nutcracker clarinet excerpt 5
Tchaikovsky Nutcracker clarinet excerpt 6
First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to All!
It’s been awhile since I posted actual words here. The past five “posts” have been videos of me playing, something I plan to continue, since music is better expressed through playing than writing or talking.
But words are nice, too. Especially the word serendipity. But before I tell you why, let me give a bit of background.
One of the most paradoxical things about music is that it can be learned and practiced without words. Yet at the same time describing the experience of music is more necessary than ever these days, since music, classical music especially, can be experienced on so many levels, and often listeners don’t know what to look for beyond a pleasant enjoyment of a piece. Not that that isn’t enough!
When I say music can benefit from descriptions with words, I do not necessarily mean intellectual descriptions, though discussions of structure, harmony and melody certainly benefit any listener.
Repeated listening to a great piece, say a Mozart piano concerto, can bring new levels of “goosebumpness”, as melodies, harmonies, rhythms and structure reveal themselves. I often don’t know WHY a particular place in a piece of music sends me to heaven, but I surely know that it does.
I have always experienced heavy-duty goosebumpness while listening to or performing music. I used to become so excited during a performance that I could hardly play for want of exclaiming with joy.
I’ve mellowed with age, but I still feel my whole body tingle with ripples of electricity when performing a juicy passage.
During my first year of undergraduate studies at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, I somehow (serendipitously?) stumbled onto several recordings of somewhat obscure music of Rachmaninoff (his Isle of the Dead) and Shostakovich (his cello concerto).
I latched onto the ultra-sensual romantic harmonies of Rachmaninoff, along with the acerbic and excruciating expressionist music of Shostakovitch. Each resonated with me in some way.
My roommate at the time, who was a composition major, exclaimed playfully “How can you get into such far-out music when you’ve barely touched the great standards such as the symphonies of Beethoven.” Perhaps I felt less intimidated while listening to those composers over Beethoven, and I could experience the music directly without wondering “how” to experience it.
That’s how it begins. Then, with luck and goosebumps, the interest deepens.
You hear a piece, perhaps one recommended by a friend, or perhaps a new piece on a program along with something you already know. It speaks to you. And then, perhaps, you begin to seek more like it, or begin to question “why” is speaks to you.
The Columbus Symphony recently played a concert which included Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances and Shostakovitch 5th symphony, so you can imagine the volcanic emotions (and the goosebump equivalents) I was feeling!
Speaking of music, and music speaking to me, I love words, too. Words may not give me goosebumps, but they tickle some part of my brain.
Words often pop into my head, unbidden, even words I don’t know the definition of. Perspicacious is one such words. (Defined as “having a ready insight into and understanding of things”) Supercilious is another. (Literally, to “raise an eyebrow”, and means to act superior to another)
Another great word is serendipity.
Although I have always known the definiton serendipity, it’s meaning and sound appeal to me. (I also love the movie of that title.) Serendipity, beyond being a fun word to say, describes lucky accidents. And lucky accidents shape our lives more than we can ever imagine.
Bear with me; I do have a point to all this.
Over the past few years I’ve been collecting a list of contacts for composers, mostly through Twitter. The list now has around 140 composers. The plan is to contact them all when the Twitter Symphony project begins.
Two of those composers are Karl Henning and Arne Running. They are both men, both play clarinet, and both are composers. I have acquired clarinet pieces from both.
And both have (to my very imaginative ear) somewhat similar names. ANYWAY, a few months back, while intending to contact Mr. Running, whom I had met for lunch in Philadelphia, I accidentally contacted Mr Henning to ask if he’s ever in the Columbus area and to contact me if so. Mr. Henning responded that he would be in Columbus this week.
Long story short, I realized my mistake by the time Mr. Henning and I had set up a coffee date a few days ago. Nonetheless, the event turned out to be more serendipitous than I could have imagined!!
Karl Henning and I had a memorable conversation on topics such as his decision to maintain his “day job” as a systems analylist while pursuing composing. His Alma Mater is the College of Wooster, where I taught clarinet for a semester, and which highlights the list of great small colleges in Ohio. We discussed the composition process, the plight of new music in the face of the “top 40″ syndrome plaguing the programs of all orchestras.
Beyond finding many interesting subjects to share, two other serendipitous events happened in the coffee shop where we met (Global Gallery).
A woman in her 70s overhead us chatting about the Marlboro Music Festival, which I often attend, and introduced herself and exclaimed her passion for classical music. She also knew one of the original funders of the Marlboro Festival. (I gave her my card, but alas, did not get her name, or the name of the woman she spoke of.)
The other lucky event involved a chance encounter with Christian Howes, a well known jazz violinist who has also played with the Columbus Symphony. I have been meaning to contact him to congratulate him on a fantastic collaborative album with Nashville jazz/fiddle violinist Billy Contreras, called Jazz Fiddle Revolutionhttp://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=24123.
Beyond the album, Chris Howes has also started a subscription website where he offers instructional videos on playing jazz violin. This is EXACTLY the kind of thing I hope to do in the near future with my own website!! I look forward to exploring his site more, and to learning from his experience in setting it up and getting it going.
Chris and Billy have also released a new album, titled Jazz Fiddle Evolution. (You can buy it HERE on Christian’s site) For a taste of the great chemistry between these two very different but talented violinists, check out this video:
So, what started out as a confusion between two composers names ended up a truly serendipitous event, with several new and exciting connections.
I’ll be playing this wonderful and little known piece in November, a late work of Richard Strauss, his Duett Concertino for Clarinet and Bassoon with strings and harp accompaniment. The bassoon soloist is my colleague Betsy Sturdevant, whose blog you should check out, appropriately named, Bassoon Blog. Here I am playing through the gorgeous opening solo, seeing how soft I can play it since much of it is marked p.
My Funny Valentine
Sweet Comic Valentine
You Make Me Smile With My Heart
You’re Looks Are Laughable,
Yet You’re My Favorite Work Of Art
Is Your Figure Less Than Greek
Is Your Mouth A Little Weak
When You Open It To Speak
Are You Smart
Don’t Change A Hair For Me
Not If You Care For Me
Stay Little Valentine Stay
Each Day Is Valentine’s Day
Second in a series of video “gifts” for my mom, who turns 90 November 1st 2011. (The first is Rachmaninoff Vocalise) I like to relax playing a bit of jazz clarinet. It’s just me and a Jamey Aebersold CD playing My Funny Valentine by Rodgers and Hart. I love this song.
I know what some of you may be thinking. It’s okay, there is no oedipal message here. It’s just a song I like, and one Mom knows, played for her 90th birthday. That’s it, kids.
Warming up for tonight’s concert with the Columbus Symphony. The program includes Jeniffer Higdon’s ravishing tone poem, Blue Cathedral, followed by Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.
The Higdon piece ends with a lonely, soft clarinet solo, fading to nothing. But I keep my air speed going all the way. Hopefully, at least!
Rachmaninoff Vocalise Op. 34, NO. 14. Video of my practice today.
Great piece for working on phrasing and breath control. Mom loves this piece (and has sung it) and always asked me to play it. When I do, she tells me to support more, play slower and phrase longer. Thanks, Mom.
I added text comments throughout the video. Enjoy.
Clarinet – Buffet R13 A
Mouthpiece – Hawkins B
Ligature – Bay, gold plated
Reed – Legere Signature 4.25
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