Wednesday, November 7, 2007

More Tsimbl: The Sweet Pain of Pete Rushefsky

Album cover for 'Tsimbl un Fidl: Klezmer Music for Hammered Dulcimer & Violin'My post about Dan Carkner's new "Learning Tsymbaly" blog got me thinking about the tsimbl. While I'm familiar with its sound and general description, I don't know much of any depth about it. So Google to the rescue. Here's a description of tsimbl in klezmer excerpted from a longer article by Pete Rushefsky titled "Jewish Strings - An Introduction to the Klezmer Tsimbl."

"The tsimbl is played like a xylophone but employs strings instead of wood or metal blocks. The player strikes the strings with mallets often padded with cotton or leather. As with a piano, each note struck on the instrument resonates a course of four or five strings that have been placed closely together and tuned to the same pitch. The multiple strings provide the tsimbl with a rich and often haunting sonority. Of course, the downside to this construction is the large number of strings to keep in tune-- most tsimbls have over twenty courses and more than one hundred strings which must be checked and adjusted prior to performance.

Tsimbls evolved from a medieval German instrument called the hackbrett (literally translating to "chopping board"). The first record of a Jewish player of the instrument comes from Lemberg (now Lviv, Ukraine) where Abus Cymbalista was approved by the musicianís guild to play for Catholic banquets in 1629. Migrating Jewish musicians were henceforth central to the spread of the tsimbl through Eastern Eurpoe and the Balkans over the next three centuries."
And here's a video of Rushefsky and violinist Elie Rosenblatt playing "Romanian Fantazi" from their album "Tsimbl un Fidl: Klezmer Music for Hammered Dulcimer & Violin", which is available through CD Baby. Rushefsky has also recorded the album "Oyf di vegelekh / On the Paths: Yiddish Songs with Tsimbl" with Yiddish vocalist Rebecca Kaplan. It was released on Yiddishland Records, and you can hear sound clips of it on the Amazon website and read a review of it at Klezmershack.

Tsimbl und Fidl Romanian Fantazi

I love reading the comments people write for YouTube videos (and blog posts), here's a wonderful one for Romanian Fantazi. This says it all.

shtreiml: Some of the most authentic and heart-wrenching krechtzes I have ever heard. Ah sweet pain!


Shloyme said...

Just great! This is how old-world Klezmer should be played.

Jack said...

Shloyme...I'm glad you liked it.