Below are my complete clinic notes on Etude No. 3, “The Caprice,” from this year’s Texas TMEA All-State Soprano Clarinet Etudes. My notes on Etude No. 2, “The Slow Etude,” are available HERE. Watch for my notes on Etude 1 coming soon!
ClarinetMike’s Texas TMEA All-State Clarinet Clinic 2016-17: Soprano Clarinet Etude No. 3, “The Caprice”
Etude 3, “The Caprice,” Allegro brillante, Page: 94-95, Key: F Major, Etude Title: 9 Caprices, No. 9, Tempo: Quarter Note = 100-112. Play from beginning to Measure 50 downbeat. Errata: None.
Caprice: The dictionary defines “Caprice” as a “sudden whim or fancy.” Musical “Caprices” composed during Rode’s time were often written in a lively and playful “style of fast, evenly moving, light staccato figuration.” (Randel, New Harvard Dictionary of Music, 139)
Overview: Perform this virtuosic, yet very lyrical Caprice with a beautiful tone and extreme dynamics in a “ripping around” style of even sixteenths and rhythms. Relaxed hands and body are vital.
Composer and Style: This Rose etude is based on a Caprice by French violinist and composer Pierre Rode (1774-1830) from his 24 Caprices for Violin. These etudes are an important staple in the training of violinists. Contemporary violinist Axel Strauss says about this etude, “Explore the virtuosic and the lyrical sides of this effective caprice. Areas with eighth notes generally have a more lyrical quality…” From https://www.naxos.com/sharedfiles/PDF/How_to_Play_Rode_Caprices.pdf
Sections and Phrases: Etude breaks into 2 clear sections: S1 = m1-m29 and S2 = m30-m50. Phrases are a little more “capricious,” but here’s a suggestion: P1 = m1-m12, P2 = m12-m22, P3 = m23-m29, P4 = m30-m41, P5 = m42-m50.
Problem Passages: Accidentals in S2. Also, in S2, be sure to go at a slower tempo as indicated! M6 is fast, so rip it! Some broken chords and thirds passages are tricky. Watch for measures that repeat, this will help.
Musical Issues: Play with LOTS OF DYNAMIC CONTRAST! Keep style light and play as much like a violin as possible. In m49 “Poco piu mosso” means faster, so accelerate as you play the measure – the idea in the etude here is to accelerate so that you arrive at the original tempo at m50. Virtuosity is an important part of the etude, but as a friend of mine says, “Don’t play anything faster than you can play it.”
Technical Issues: Articulation: All staccatos whether with slur (m3) or not should be only slightly detached, not too short – use a light tongue stroke [Think Violin!]. Slur all of m13. Trills: One trill only on each trill. Do m3 grace note/trill as in All-State Etude #1 “The Polonaise.” Turn: Play the turn in m11 as either a triplet on the downbeat with 2 sixteenths on upbeat OR four 32nds on upbeat – I prefer the triplet/2 sixteenths version as it sounds better to me and is easier. Fingerings: In the turn, m11, consider using an alternate G: hold down thumb F and add G# key. Use left C in a couple spots after and before Eb. M34 merits special attention: between the 6th and 7th notes in the measure “jump” or “hop” left little finger off Ab to left C – clipping the Ab short will help give you time to move the finger and make this move less noticeable. NO resonance fingerings or right hand down on throat tones in fast passages, this slows down and dirties up the technique [some students may have to relearn scales without right hand down to play really fast – BAND DIRECTORS TAKE NOTE FOR FURTHER REFERENCE!]. Question: Should the repeat be done in m42-m43? At this time there is no official word from TMEA on whether to take it or not. My opinion is to learn it both ways. If you prepare it only one way and the judges ask the other, you are sunk.
Scale and Arpeggio Cheat Sheet: Scales: F major, Bb major, and Ab major. Arpeggios: F major, Bb major, C7, G7, Ab major, Eb7, F minor, and F fully diminished 7th (F, Ab, B, D) [aka B fully diminished 7th (B, D, F, Ab)]
Breathing: As marked – stop and breathe in spots such as m18, m22, m26, etc. In m20 consider a breath after third A as in m18. Take a little break at breath mark after m29 to line up tempo for next section. This is also a good spot to “let it out” i.e. exhale any old built up air and release any acquired body tensions – thus regaining relaxation and good air for next section.
Other: The etude is difficult. Work on this etude at every practice session. Work on light staccato. Check out scales, arpeggios and thirds in Albert Scales in keys of F, Bb and Ab. Use Count Aloud and Note Grouping practice techniques.
Suggested Listening: Listen to Rode’s Caprices in their original violin versions. BUT DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS ETUDE OVER AND OVER AND JUST COPY! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zNh3NkEPWM