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Watch the Breakdown 13 - 15 online guitar lesson by Tim Sparks from Roots, Rags & Blues

Playing a Fingerstyle guitar rendition of a Klezmer tune feels like a bit of a cross between Flamenco and Ragtime. This tune is a great example of how well a Flamenco key and chord voicing can embody a Klezmer tune. The key is B, with B dominant 7 flavors. The first notes of the melody play off this typical Flamenco voicing of a B dominant 7 with a flat 9: B-F#-C-D#-B-E.

The scale expressed by this arpeggio is B-C-D#-E-F#-G. It's a modified Phrygian Mode. Klezmers call it "Freygish." You will probably recognize it as the "Hava Nagila" scale, also known as "Hijaz" in Turkish and Arabic lexicons, and as "Ahava Rabboh" or "Abounding Love" in the traditional system of liturgical scales used by cantors. This lesson shows an improvisation over an A pedal tone, basically A minor. The scale is modified to A-B-D#-E-F#-G. This sub- mode of Ahava Rabboh is called Mi Sheberach, meaning "He who blessed", also known as Rumanian minor. It is often the basis for improvisation over a pedal tone which is called Doina in Eastern Europe and Taksim in the Middle East.

A good link to find out more about Klezmer modes is Josh Horowitz' The Main Klezmer Modes.

By the way, Ari Davidov's Klezmershack web site is a great link for Klezmer and other styles of Jewish Music. If you enjoy fingerstyle Klezmer check out my edition of Neshamah on Mel Bay Publications.