It’s no secret by now that I love method books (as witnessed by my slowly increasing number of clarinet boot camps). Can’t get enough of ’em!
I have a few favorite method books which are never too far from my music stand, but I do like to spice things up occasionally. I’ve worked through most of the standard books at this point – Baermann, Jettel, Klosé, Rose, Kell, Jeanjean, etc – and I thought it would be nice to explore a more diverse range of genres and styles for a change of musical pace. The clarinet is such a versatile instrument and can play music from a diverse repertoire, including (but not limited to) jazz, Klezmer, rock, ragtime, blues, tango, choros, zarzuela, raga, and so many more!
I came across several wonderful resources for clarinetists wishing to learn diverse musical styles, and I’d like to share a few of my favorites. I tried to include books from as many different styles as I could find, and I also tried to include books to help develop the various skills and techniques (rather than simple song books).
(Please note that some of these books might currently be out of print or difficult to purchase due to limited availability.)
- 11 Études sur des modes karnatiques by Eugène Bozza. This is a wonderful book to learn Carnatic modes and styles, which is a musical system used in India. Bozza also wrote a similar book for flute called 10 Études sur des modes karnatiques.
- Choro: Basic Concepts for Playing Brazilian Music by Pedro Ramos. Intended for all instruments (not just clarinet), this book is a wonderful introduction into the Brazilian choro which includes detailed information to help you develop your own interpretation and style to traditional melodies.
- Learn to Play Klezmer Music: Improvising in the Tradition by Alan Statman. On this DVD, Statman plays traditional melodies, first without ornamentation, then slowly adding musical ornaments and explaining how they contribute to a Klezmer style.
- World Music: Balkan for Clarinet arranged by Hidam Mamudov. Although this is a play-along collection of traditional Balkan melodies, it does include tips to develop style and technique for this genre of music.
- World Music: Celtic for Clarinet arranged by Martin Tourish. Tourish collects melodies from Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish and Breton backgrounds and explains the often bare-bones notation system used in Celtic music. Like the Balkan music book, this is a play-along collection.
- Complete Jazz Clarinet Book by William Bay. The title says it all – this book contains everything an aspiring jazz clarinetist should know, including theory, musical phrasing, rhythmic interpretation, musical exercises, improvisation advice, and lots more.
- Atonal Jazz by Meyer Kupferman. Kupferman himself was a clarinet virtuoso (in both classical and jazz), and this book builds upon traditional jazz skills by adding modern techniques and tonal language, such as twelve-tones. (You can read more about Meyer Kupferman’s clarinet compositions here.)
- Developing Jazz Technique for Clarinet by John O’Neill. Learn about jazz skills from a wide variety of styles, including blues, swing, New Orleans, ragtime, jazz waltz, bossa nova, samba, salsa, calypso, reggae and South African.
- Artie Shaw’s Jazz Technic [sic] by Artie Shaw. What better way to learn jazz than from one of the greatest jazz clarinetists of all time? This book includes various scales and exercises to help develop the technique necessary for jazz playing.
- Études sur les Môdes de Transposition limitées d’Olivier Messiaen by Guy Lacour. Although this still falls under the umbrella of classical music, Lacour includes exercises based on Messiaen’s famous modes of limited transposition, offering a departure from typical tonalities.
- 24 Clarinet Etudes from the World by Gregory Barrett. If you want to learn more about world music but don’t know where to start, this book contains a little bit of everything!
Although I couldn’t find any books specifically geared towards rock, heavy metal, techno, dance music, or other more popular styles, there are a few amazing clarinetists who share great content for these genres:
- Have you ever heard a clarinet mashup of heavy metal, gospel, classical, and other styles? If not, check out Edmund Welles: The Bass Clarinet Quartet. According to this group, they perform “heavy chamber music,” including covers of famous songs and over 50 original compositions.
- If you’re looking for a veritable hodgepodge of eclectic clarinet styles, you need to check out Yom, who combines his love of Radiohead, Klezmer, trip hop, Balkan music, and many more disparate styles.
- Alexey Goroholinsky is a classically trained clarinetist and audio engineer who shares his electronic music and albums on his website.
The limits of the clarinet’s repertoire and interpretation are endless, and I encourage you to explore as many diverse styles as you can!
Leave a comment or contact me with any other resources you would like me to add to this list.