An Easy Klezmer Piece

by Stacy Phillips

"Kishniev #1" is taken from my latest publication "Easy Klezmer Tunes" (Mel Bay Pub. # 98980). The latter contains a selection of classic pieces in this style, arranged for beginning level players. It is based on the playing of one of the architects of modern klezmer forms, Dave Tarras.

One of the more challenging melodies in this book, "Kishniev #1" illustrates some of the most obvious elements of klezmer. For ease of reading the key signature is C major, but the actual scale, except for a few measures is C - Db - E - F - G - Ab - Bb.

This is the scale most associated with klezmer. That flatted second note (here Db) followed by a minor third interval up to the third note of the scale (here E), obviates the West Asian roots of this music. It is usually referred to as the "freygish" mode by klezmer musicians.

The chromatic passages and change of mode (here, to a couple of different forms of F major and minor in measures 9-16) are two other typical klezmer touches.

Kishniev was the name of a town in the area of western Russia/Byelorus. Tarras recorded it on his last album, "Music for the Traditional Jewish Wedding" (Balkan Arts Center - #1002). It should have a stately, walking feel. Play no faster than 100 beats/minute.

Each piece in "Easy Klezmer Tunes" is arranged for C, Bb, Eb and bass clef instruments. The book comes with a CD with ensemble versions of all the pieces.

Listen to KishNiev #1

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