How do you actually play the incredible opening solo in ‘Rhapsody in Blue’?

15 May 2018, 16:32

A trill, a scale and one filthy glissando – which according to this clarinet genius, is technically called a ‘smear’. Here’s how it’s done.

First, here’s what the opening solo looks like:

Rhapsody in Blue clarinet glissando
Rhapsody in Blue clarinet glissando. Picture: Acoustics

Even if you don’t read music, you can see that’s a heck of a lot of notes.

So, you need to start with a lot of breath. Playing a long glissando like Gershwin’s makes your instrument work harder and less efficiently, says clarinettist Michael Lowerstern (Earspasm on YouTube).

Second, Michael says, start to slowly pull your finger on and off the opening note to create a trill.

Once you’ve made it to the top of the trill, slowly pull your fingers off all three top keys together to create the aforementioned ‘smear’.

And bam, you’ve nailed the Rhapsody in Blue!