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Its jewish music, but is the music jewish? - music


A while back I was forceful along the Jerusalem highway scanning the radio stations. On one frequency, a very intense dance beat was exploding out of the speakers. I was about to move the dial some more in hunt of a Jewish tune when the lead singer on track in. Shock of shocks, he was a brutally Hassidic singer, absolute with eastern European pronunciation. And what was he singing? "Kumee oy'ree ki va oy-reich. . " from 16th century Rabbi Shlomo Alkavetz' classic Sabbath poem, L'cha Dodi. Already he had began his rendition I had been pregnant a bit like "Oh baby, the way you move with me . . . "!

I had to ask the old question, "Is this good for the Jews?" And I had to give the old answer, "Does hair grow on the palm of your hand?"

Of course of action it's not good for the Jews, I felt. Poor, fateful L'cha Dodi, dragged from the fields of Tsfat on the Sabbath eve and infected with Saturday Night Fever! Amorously done by a Hassid, no less!

Speaking of Tsfat, I ability to remember indirect about their Klezmer festival once and examination a contemporary background of Psalm 126. It was to a funk rhythm, and the words did not fit. The soloist had to split words in two, which rendered them more or less meaningless. Good for the Jews? Nah.

What concerned me about this so-called Jewish music? To put it briefly, above and beyond the words, it just wasn't. It was dance, trance, shmantz. It was hip, driving, suggestive. If this music was asked where it hunted to play, the synagogue or the sin-skin club, the fulfil was clear. If Jewish music is to be distinct as such, it must have authentic Jewish roots. And so much contemporary music easily does not. Where was the cause of this tradition? Nowhere. That's what disturbed me.

But, as Tevye reminds us, there's a new hand. After all, go pay attention to classic Hassidic nigunim (melodies). Then go listen in to Russian folk songs. Eerie, no? Weren't those folk songs the "dance" of their day?

Even stronger, go watch the devout kids. They love contemporary admired music and all its villains. What these new Jewish groups do is take what's hip and put Jewish at ease into it. Isn't that what the earliest Hassidic nigunim were all about? If we don't want to lose our young citizens in the civilization war, we have to compete. Didn't Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch bring the choral works of Lewandowsky and Japhet in to the synagogue service, even despite the fact that they were from tip to toe in the style of the German composers of the age, such as Schubert and Mendelssohn (he needs an asterisk as he was halakhically Jewish)? So maybe I ought to not only calm down, I must admire this phenomenon.

Hold on. We're both right, I believe. Here's how I reconcile the difference, and my deep attract to all who coin Jewish music. The most crucial thing is to ask, "To be or not to be?" That is the question.

Every song has a purpose, a message. It can be joy, faith, pensiveness, determination, anything. The letter is in the song and rhythm, which conceive the atmosphere. It's in the text, which gives enunciation to the message. And it's in the performance, which makes the implication own amid the actress and the listener. If the communication is congruent, if the music and the lyrics are a achieve union that inspires the performer, then you have a great piece of music. If the letter is mixed, if there's a campaign going on connecting the rhythm and the words, then we are troubled. That was why that "kumee oy'ree" was so agreed awful. It was a mixed idea of immoral music with holy texts.

We love to set verses from the liturgy to music, and that's wonderful. Composers have a elite blame to make sure that the music conveys the letter and flag the words with deeper meanings. Do that, and I'm fascinated, I'm inspired, even if it's a contemporary style.

But be very, very cautious with verses. We tend to ask, "Do you think Adon Olam goes to this?", when we would do beat to ask, "What is this piece of music saying?". If it says Adon Olam, good. If it does not, then WRITE YOUR OWN WORDS. To keep with the idea of message, if you have a great tune that can say a touch meaningful (something human and real, not denial or immodest), say it your way. That satisfies.

The foundation of Jewish music has constantly been expressing what's in our hearts as a prayer to God. That air must be congruent, pure, sincere. There is room in the Jewish music world for great innovation, if it comes from our hearts, not from the charts.

Seth Yisra'el Lutnick is a lead singer and composer who has performed on stage and screen. His CD is called Gesharim, and he is also a qualified cantor. Visit his website, http://www. greatjewishmusic. com for music and more.


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