LYDIAN PROGRESSIVE STUDIES – Vol. 3 – for clarinet


9 lydian progressive studies for clarinet. 28 pages.

Vol. 3 : rather difficult.

Foreword by Alain Damiens, et note from the author in french, english and german.

If you wish a translation in japonese or spanish, please write it right before payment.

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‘Studies’ for individual instruments constitute a very copious and particular musical genre. However, only rarely have great composers contributed to it, mostly with a few pieces for polyphonic instruments like the piano, guitar or organ. In this field, the contributions of Chopin, Debussy, Messiaen, Ligeti or Villa-Lobos for example spring to mind. Generally, ‘studies’ are designed to fulfill a functional objective and help instrumentalists overcome some technical difficulties specific to their instruments. For that reason, high aesthetic and expressive value is not usually expected to be found in such pieces.

All clarinetists remember in their heads, if not their fingers, the time-honored studies by Rose, Jeanjean or, more recently, Lancelot or Defaye… One could also mention those that are mere transcriptions of solo works for other instruments by some of the greatest composers, for example JS Bach’s Suites for cello. Though such transcriptions may well prove useful in the development of instrumental competence, their use seems like an indirect confirmation that most of the ‘studies for clarinet’ available in France are not intended to support the discovery of the musical language itself.

In this context, the Etudes lydiennes progressives for clarinet by François Cotinaud stand out as a very interesting exception within the large corpus of pedagogical books written for this instrument.

These studies enable the player to experiment with and master many aspects of clarinet playing (finger and mouth work, breathing, the management of registers) in a subtle and skillful manner. In this respect, these pieces truly are ‘studies’.

However, the value of these pieces extends far beyond such aspects. This is the work of a composer who has first hand experience of many diverse aesthetic approaches, both as a composer and an instrumentalist. The various series of studies make up a set of miniatures with an identity of their own and at the same time consistent as a whole which may thus be structured or organized by musicians as they wish. Unity and diversity are not contradictory. Whichever organization is chosen by the performer, the music can find its place within a concert programme or as incidental music in stage, choreographic or multimedia projects, for instance.

Personally, I see these pieces as following in the footsteps of some great creators of the twentieth century who have shown a particular interest in the clarinet (Berio, Pousseur, Denisov) as well as of some brilliant jazz improvisers who were their contemporaries.

These connections have something to do with George Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept which François Cotinaud uses as the structuring principle lying at the heart of these pieces. It involves a ‘non tonal, modal approach’ which can be seen in the musical DNA of the composers mentioned above as well as numerous great jazz performers: Berio and Pousseur, for example, looked beyond twelve-tone serialism, without disowning it, while chromaticism is closely intertwined with modes in sustaining choruses from Ch. Parker to J. Coltrane via T. Monk (to name but a few).

Therefore, I recommend that all clarinetists find a special place for this collection on their shelves but also, more importantly, in the repertoire that they practise and perform. They, along with their audiences, will undoubtedly become aware that the word ‘studies’ means a great deal more in this case than what it generally suggests.

Alain DAMIENS (translated by Bérengère Battarbee-Mauduit)

Additional Information
Weight 0.110 kg
Dimensions 21 × 3 × 29.7 cm