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Jewish Music In The 20th Century America

1907 words - 8 pages

Dxxxx WxxxxxMUET 220Dr. Rxxxxx PxxxxxxTA Jxxx LxxxxxxFebruary 23, 2007JEWISH MUSIC IN 20TH-CENTURY AMERICANormally, as a Jewish individual, I disapprove of the notion that being Jewish American is an "ethnicity," comparable as such with being African American, Asian American, or Latino American. However, it is undeniable that there exists a central "culture" to Judaism, and as such its music can and should be studied by the standards applied to all ethnomusicology. Although the religion is not a birth-given, undeniable genetic trait, there is a sense of community associated with it, and therefore a set of values, traditions, and history associated with the community. In the Jewish culture in ...view middle of the document...

Orthodox and most Conservative congregations disallow this practice on the premise that it violates the commandment to not do work on the day of rest. Most liturgical music that is performed with live accompaniment is performed with a guitar; however, in some cases, a piano or even organ might be used. When there is instrumental accompaniment, the music becomes homophonic; on its own, however, it is usually monophonic, except in the rare case that some musically gifted members of the congregation decide to add contrasting melodies to produce an a cappella homophony.When instrumental accompaniment is not used, Jewish liturgical music is often either minor or modal. Rarely is there an unaccompanied major or "happy" tune associated with the Jewish worship service. There is a type of musical notation used in the torah scrolls called "Trope," which consists of a series of short melodic passages that are applied to the reading in which they are placed. When combined, the trope usually produce an Aeolian or Dorian melody to accompany the text. Most traditional Orthodox, and therefore some Conservative, melodies are based on these modes. They can at times be very melismatic, when the Cantor or Hazzan is performing a solo without the expectation that the congregation will join in.The sects of Judaism are separate not in how much of the religion they practice, but in how much of the tradition they keep. The Orthodox is the most traditional, while the Reform is the most modernizing; Conservative is somewhere in the middle. Therefore, it logically follows that the Orthodox and many Conservative melodies are performed in this trope style to emulate that which has been done for centuries; while, on the other hand, the Reform and remaining Conservative congregations are allowing new songs, not all in this style, to be composed for use in the liturgical service.The industry has even produced some famous names. Debbie Friedman and Jeff Klepper are widely regarded as timeless great composers in Jewish liturgical music, while for the younger generation there exists Dan Nichols and Rick Recht. These composers, while writing music and releasing it to the public, must also be performers. In this case, they usually make appearances at synagogues and Jewish Community Centers, outside of the Sabbath, and perform in a modern American concert setting. The audience, although sitting in a room that is probably also used for worship, is not a congregation at the time and can enjoy the concert with live music and applause without the worry of breaking any of the halakhah, the holy laws.In addition to their liturgical music, all of these performers also write Jewish non-liturgical music and will perform much of that in the concerts as well. It's difficult to name any non-liturgical music Jewish, because Judaism is a religion and it would be oxymoronic to call it religious secular music. However, the themes of the various songs are usually based on Jewish values, and many times...

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