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Paul Tkachenko

PhD student

Centre for Music Studies

E: paul@tkachenko.co.uk

Thesis title: The Real Deal: The Interaction of Musicians on a London World Music Scene

Supervisor: Dr Alexander Lingas

Overview and research interests

PhD 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 Paul has 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 Paul negotiated his way onto this scene and played with some of the finest musicians he could, he became increasingly aware of those he felt to be the Real Deal. Paul also started to feel that in certain circumstances he may also appear 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 he explored 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 Paul has played regularly, he discussed the Real Deal and how it affects the way they 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 they shared raised fundamental questions about their stage performances.

Paul examines the complex issues surrounding klezmer as a style of music and the unique scene that has developed from the American revival in London. Paul considered the role of the Jewish Music Institute and how it serves the Jewish community and professional musicians in London and beyond. Finally, he assesses how his discussions with musicians and the Jewish Music Institute have changed and shaped not only this evolving scene, but forced him to question his own attitudes and practice.

  • Eastern European and Turkish music
  • Nationalism and identity
  • Authenticity
  • World music

Paul has an MA in Music with The Open University and a BA (Hons) in Humanities.


  • Investigating notions of authenticity in the way musicians interact on the London klezmer scene.

Tkachenko, P. 2009. 'The Musical Activities of the Young Turkish-Speaking Community in London: Identity and Nationalism' in Kucukcan, T & V Gungor (eds). 2009. Turks in Europe: Culture, Identity, Integration. Amsterdam, Türkevi Research Centre.


Paul was a visiting lecturer at City for 'Materials of tonal music' on the BMus course.