Monday, February 14, 2011

So you wanna learn klezmer: A Klezmer Guide and the Klezmer ABC's

So you want to bulgar like Abe Schwartz, huh? Need the sheet music? Allen Lutins is your guy. He plays in two klezmer groups (The Mitzfits, a small klezmer band, and the larger Cornell University Klezmer Ensemble) as well as Musica Universalis, an early music consort. He's put together an impressive KlezmerGuide that cross-references klezmer recordings, including many available online and sheet music.
"KlezmerGuide started as a personal database to keep tabs on the recordings and sheet music collections I've accumulated as a klezmer clarinetist.... KlezmerGuide focuses on old "78 RPM" shellac recordings from Klezmer's "golden age" (the first half of the 20th century). Many of these recordings can be heard for free online thanks to the Judaica Sound Archives, Florida Atlantic University. Non-comprehensive (but significant) listings of more modern recordings are also included. "
By the way...the score for Abe Schwartz' "Der Shtiller Bulgar (The Quiet Bulgar)" can be found, according to the Guide, on page 40 of Henry Sapoznik and Pete Sokolow's "the Compleat Klezmer," as well as a half dozen other locations. An 1918 recording by the Abe Schwartz Jewish Orchestra can be heard online at the Florida Atlantic University Judaica Sound Archives. Ok. No more excuses. Start practicing.

Ok..still need more inspiration and/or raw material? Lutins' Guide had a link to another awesome resource, John Chambers Klezmer ABCs. ABC, in this case, refers to the "ABC text-based music notation system and the de facto standard for folk and traditional music". Chambers, who plays (or played?) in the Boston area Klezmer Contraband has a transcription Der Shtiller Bulger and a slew of other tunes. It doesn't look like the site is actively maintained, and I can't comment on the quality of the transcriptions, but it's a great place to start. Update: I just got confirmation from John Chambers that he's still active and adding material to the site. Chambers also confirmed that the Klezmer Contraband is still active in Boston. Go check 'em out.

Here's his ABC version of Der Shtiller, rendered into normal score and into MIDI.

Ok, what else do you need. Get practicing.

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