Clarinetists - A Rhapsody in Blue Question

I was watching Manhattan again last night, and Woody Allen uses Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in the opening scenes showing the New York skyline.

Is the opening ascending “run” (for lack of a better term to call it) in Rhapsody in Blue difficult to play? It has to be one of the most recognizable pieces of music ever written.

Clarinetists generally call it a “smear”, although technically I think the musical term is glissando.

It’s done by progressively sliding the fingers off of the tone holes, which is a little-used technique among classical players (although jazzers probably do it a lot).

Your basic high school player could get the general idea and could do it somewhat, but to make it sound consistently good going all the way up the octave takes a good player and lots of practice.

I did a quick search and found this fun quote:

Hey! Get a REAL name, AV8R! :smiley:

Oh wait, you were here before me. Guess that makes ME the copycat… :rolleyes:

Anyway, my mother has played clarinet for the better part of 30 years, and told me she’s never been able to do the ‘smear’ properly. If you listen closely to a recording, the first dozen or so notes are “keyed,” then the last ones blend together like a sort of squawk. I think she told me the effect comes from the throat, and getting up to the last note before running out of air is the hard part. “Dismay” is right.

Maybe a real clarinetist will happen along…

Hey, I am a real clarinetist, av8rmike! :smiley:
(But my smears were never that great either)

Generally, players who do this in concert play the notes keyed until they get to the 4th line D on the treble clef staff. Then they smear up to the high C. It helps to have a somewhat looser embouchure than usual (and of course keep your throat open). But you definitely cannot “lip it” or do something with your throat to bend the pitch a minor 7th.

I av8 and play clarinet both. But never simultaneously.

And my mother played clarinet also. What a world.

Happy av8-ing, mike! :slight_smile: