The real deal: professional klezmer musicians on a London world music scene

Tkachenko, Paul (2013). The real deal: professional klezmer musicians on a London world music scene. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)

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Abstract

The Real Deal is a term often used by musicians to describe people they perceive to be more authentic than them. Over the past seven or eight years, I have performed music from Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Turkey and beyond under the umbrella of World Music in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world: London. As I negotiated my way onto this scene and played with some of the finest musicians, I became increasingly aware of those I felt to be the Real Deal. I also began to feel that, in certain circumstances, I may also have appeared to be the Real Deal to others. Many of the musicians on this scene had begun their foray into these diverse styles with klezmer and it is this style that I explore most with relation to the Real Deal. As klezmer is a Jewish music style not played, or even enjoyed, by all Jews, this makes notions of the Real Deal much more ambiguous.

This thesis examines the movable perception that is the Real Deal and the complex interplay that results between musicians. Through discussions with twenty musicians with whom I have played regularly, I discussed the Real Deal and how it affects the way we work. Although half of the musicians self-identified as being Jewish and the other half did not, this became only one factor in the complex negotiations involved in professional music making. The often amusing anecdotes of mistaken identity that we shared raised fundamental questions about our stage performances.

I examine the complex issues surrounding klezmer as a style of music and the unique scene that has developed from the American revival in London. I consider the role of the Jewish Music Institute and how it serves the Jewish community and professional musicians in London and beyond. Finally, I assess how my discussions with musicians and the Jewish Music Institute have not only changed and shaped this evolving scene, but forced me to question my own attitudes and practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Divisions: School of Arts > Department of Creative Practice & Enterprise - Centre for Music Studies
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/2361

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