Jeanjean 1

Ok, here goes the first post of many about the Jeanjean Book of 18. I bought a new copy recently since my old one, which I've had since High School, was beat up and marked up. I've always loved these etudes, their corny sensuality, their inventiveness, their extreme challenge. With any music, but particularly with French music, the performer must make the music sound effortless. Paul Jeanjean 18 Etudes for Clarinet

Jeanjean wrote little in his forward to the book.

The 18 Jeanjean Studies in their construction represent a revolutionary departure from present day clarinet music literature, because they prepare the clarinetist to read and execute various odd melodic chord formations and intricate rhythmic figures found in the symphonic works by the "MODERNISTS".

For example Etude #2 contains chord formations of the augmented 5th, 9ths, 13ths and their inversion.
Etude #5 is dedicated to the study of the Whole Tone scale, also 5/8 and 7/4 rhythms.
Etude #6 contains rhythmic figures in 5/4 and Etude #8 is a study in 1/4 rhythm.
Etude #18 is in Canon form, a study for 2 clarinets.

He then mentions the other excerpts of his own music and that of his contemporaries in the clarinet world, Delmas, Sporck, Gateau, Avon and Niverd, which are included to improve your tone and virtuosity to prepare you for the big, bad music world.

Gearing up for the preparation of the first etude, I've been playing slow scales in octaves at piano volume. As you may know, this etude focuses on large legato leaps, one of the trickier challenges on the clarinet. I concentrated on maintaining voicing integrity between the notes, allowing the note to float up to the higher octave. No lip or jaw pressure. The octave practice made it a lot easier before I even began the etude.

Now for the interpretation. Jeanjean is quite specific in his interpretative notations. The piece is marked "lent et expressif" with a note d├ęcomposez (sub-divide), to be sure it is not played too fast. The 6/4 measure is often played in a slow 2, so this will be counted in a flowing 6.

Yet the first half phrase, marked "doux et expressif", is six bars long, making it difficult to play it without a breath, as I prefer to do. I chose quarter=80-84 as a good tempo to accomplish what Jeanjean seems to want, a slow, flowing phrase with a long line. The first full phrase is 12 bars long, ending with the F in the beginning of the fourth line of music.

Jeanjean 1st etude, first phraseHis dynamics are marked to be challenging. The first note begins pp and within 4 beats crescendos to mf. The second part of the phrase begins again in pp, then crescendos to f expr. in 6 beats; the second half of the full phrase crescendos to f as in the first half, but the second part forces the player to crescendo from pp to f in just 3 beats on a high C. It would almost be easier to play the phrases with much smaller dynamic range, but Mr. JJ demands tonal control through a greater dynamic range.

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9 comments for “Jeanjean 1

  1. Rares
    November 10, 2009 at

    hello , where i can download all the metode ? i need this book please

    • November 10, 2009 at

      Hi- You can buy them easily. They are published by Alfred.

  2. Glenn Kantor
    September 24, 2009 at

    David – I've always phrased the 1st Etude a bit differently. Although i am conscious of the two 6 bar phrases, I breath at the end of the 2nd full measure, before the skip to the high C. The next breath is the same place as you took one, at the end of the 6th measure. I take the next breath 2 measures later, just before the eighth rest, so it matches the breath i took at the beginnig of the piece. Then, like you, I complete the second 6 bar phrases. I think that the eighth rest was purposely thought about by Jeanjean and must be observed. To do that, you must match the first two measure motive the the later two measure motive starting at "au movement"
    Best regards – Glenn

  3. September 23, 2009 at

    This looks to be a nice addition to this clarinet doubler's work stack. Thanks!

  4. September 22, 2009 at

    Wonderful approach to the etude, like the cleaning of an old painting … thoughtfully working your way down to the original colors and values. I love how you worked out the tempo within the context of everything else.

    • September 22, 2009 at

      Thanks Bill. I hope to put up a video of the first part tomorrow.

  5. September 20, 2009 at

    Yes, I do that all the time. I have a book of etudes created from various excerpts. Perhaps I should to a prep etude book for Jeanjean…

  6. September 19, 2009 at

    I like your idea of making up pre-etudes. For difficult orchestral solos, I have made up exercises to expose the difficult aspects and it really does make a difference.

    • September 20, 2009 at

      Yes, I do that all the time. I have a book of etudes created from various excerpts. Perhaps I should to a prep etude book for Jeanjean…

      David H Thomas, clarinetist
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