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Musical Instruments in Israel
Presented by Karen Lin and Allan Tang

As you listen to our presentation, focus on this question- The musical instruments involved in the making of “Jewish music” are as diverse as the Jewish people themselves. How are these four instruments instrumental to the representation of music in Israel?

Violin

History
-Descendant of the viol, an instrument of 15th century Spain
-Jews contributed to the development of violin in Italy.
-Emergence of violin coincides with Jewish migration from Spain to Italy.

Why are Jews so fond of the violin?
-Violin prevalent in media that attempts to represent the Jewish culture
​-Schindler’s List theme employs solo violin
​-The Fiddler on the Roof represents the “precariousness” of Jewish society
-Versatile, intense, passionate instrument that expresses Jewish emotions and experience
-“Ticket into the big city”-Violin linked to Hope because of the many possibilities for an orchestra job in the city.
-Like Asians and pianos, most young Jews had to take up the violin or lose to the “kid next door”

How is the Arabic violin different from its European counterpart?
-Called “kaman” in Arabic
-Adopted from Europe during second half of 19th century
-Suited for maqam, due to its lack of frets
-Moroccans play “gamba style,” placing the violin on their laps
-Tuned in fourths and fifths (GDGD), played in ornate style, can sound nasal and penetrating

Who are some famous Jewish Violinists?
-Miri Ben-Ari, hip-hop
-Itzhak Perlman and Isaac Stern, classical

Oud

History
– Originate from another Persian instrument called the barbat, dating back to the Sassanid (Persian) empire in 224 A.D.
– Spread to Andalusia, or present day Spain most likely through Islamic conquests
– 1492 Spanish Inquisition resulting in European adaptation of the lute and the exile of Jews from Spain to Northern Africa and the Middle East.

– the ud was considered the king of musical instruments in the Arab world
​- versatility, popularity
– can be played in two distinctive styles: Ottoman and Egyptian
Al-Farid – Egyptian style: http://www.mikeouds.com/audio/farido1.mp3
Yair Dalal – Ottoman style

Symbolism
– known for its calming, healing, and meditative properties
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwl9QJWq-2o&feature=youtu.be&t=1m6s
– symbol of tranquility: “the ud invigorates the body…It calms and revives hearts” (Grove)
– structure of harmonious proportions

Yair Dalal
– representing Israel and Middle Eastern cultures, fusing them through music
– peace activist between the two cultures
– Opinion: use of the ud as a symbol of peace

Ud in Shaping Israeli History
– Erza Aharon: ud player and singer who immigrated to Jerusalem in 1934
​- created a small radio program called “Sounds of the East”
​- “wished to provide the Arabic music with a new national Jewish style, encompassing Hebrew texts, western instruments, and harmonization” (Hirshberg 198-199)
– Early Hebrew songs were translated from Arabic, ud suitable to back up singing

Shofar

History
– only Jewish liturgical instrument that survived the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE.
– made out of a ram’s horn

Symbolism
– Ties to the Binding of Isaac
​- (From Genesis 22) Story of a ram sacrificed in place of Isaac, son of Abraham
– Mount Sinai
​- (From Exodus 16) Story of when God descended and gave Moses the ten commandments.
– Played during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
– Sounding of War

Sounds of the Shofar

– tekiah: broken interrupted sound
– shevarim: three triplet blasts, like three shorter tekiah
– terual: nine staccato short notes
– tekiah gedolah: held as long as possible

Qanun

History
-Descendant of the Egyptian harp, dating back to the 10th century
-Means “law,” “rule,” or “norm” in Arabic and establishes the law of pitch for other instruments and singers
-Meant to play in Maqamat (Arabic mode)

Symbolism
-Concertino for Kanun (Qanun), English Horn, Clarinet, Strings and Percussion, Op. 292 (1959) is written by famous Jewish composer Marc Lavry for Iraqi qanun player Avraham David Cohen, who immigrated to Israel in 1949. The piece uses Western harmony but features a traditional Arabic instrument
-Represents the Jewish craft of creative improvisation and absorption of different styles, as the wandering klezmer ensembles did in Europe.

Ali Amr
-Grew up amid war in Ramallah, Palestine (just north of Jerusalem), overcame many logistical difficulties just to attend Berklee College of Music in America
-”Music was my support through it all. I was really influenced by war to create music, and by music to fight against war…Music is peace.”
-Composes his own music, fusing Arabic elements with jazz
-Also a vocalist, singing in traditional style

References
Violin
Jews and the Violin: http://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Features/Did-Jews-invent-the-violin
History: https://www.google.com/search?q=violin+history&espv=210&es_sm=93&source=lnms&sa=X&ei=XmiNUon3FIv8iQK1-IH4CQ&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAA&biw=1517&bih=755&dpr=0.9
Brief introduction to Arabic instruments: http://www.maqamworld.com/instruments.html

Ud
Yair Dalal biography: http://www.yairdalal.com/index.php/en/biography.html
Grove entry on the Ud: http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/28694.
Grove entry on Iran including information on the barbat: http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/13895#S13895.2.5
Garland Encyclopedia on the Ud: http://glnd.alexanderstreet.com/view/330282
Yair Dalal history of the oud and its healing properties: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwl9QJWq-2o
Erza Aharon Entry in the Hirshberg:
Hirshberg, Jehoash. “Westerners Meet Arabic Music.” Music in the Jewish Community of Palestine, 1880-1948: A Social History. Oxford: Clarendon, 1995. 198-99. Print.

Shofar
Shofar, its use and its origins [book], requires Berkeley library: https://babel.hathitrust.org/shcgi/pt?id=mdp.39015007926341;view=1up;seq=6
Meaning of the Shofar (also in the shofar book, but with interpretation):
http://ohr.edu/1191
Pitches and Notes of the Shofar: http://www.musicofthebible.com/extra_shofar.htm
Exodus 19: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+19&version=NIV
Genesis 22: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+22&version=NIV
Rosh Hashanah information:
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/holiday2.html
http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Judaism/Rosh-Hashana-The-sound-of-the-shofar-325263

Youtube links on people’s opinion on the meaning of the shofar, accuracy is unknown and used as supplement/interesting information:

Qanun
Concertino for Qanun: http://www.marclavry.org/2011/03/16/concertino-for-kanun-qanun-english-horn-clarinet-strings-percussion-op-292/
http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/d/EventDetails/i/38590/pid/187
Ali Amr profile: http://www.berklee.edu/news/627/student-profile-ali-amr
Jewish musical identity: http://books.google.com/books?id=b9ST9c-7_z0C&pg=PA18&lpg=PA18&dq=qanun+in+jewish+society&source=bl&ots=sJcMta_J0n&sig=JZpOf0R6FV68_oBt7HZ89PdmhJc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=7AWNUrm7DYHqiwLNtoCwCg&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=qanun%20in%20jewish%20society&f=false
Brief history: http://www.sarahmichael53.com/about-the-qanun.html

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Erev shel shoshanim, “evening of roses” or “evening of lilies” has been one of the most successful songs from Israel, with the exception of Yerushalayim shel zahav (1967), and of course Hava nagilah–which was actually composed, by Abraham Zvi Idelsohn, in pre-1948 Palestine (and that is now a movie…).

It is a love song with fairly explicit biblical references (see for example Song of Songs 14:4 for the reference to myrrh, spices, and frankincense), as well as a SLI (Song of the Land of Israel) in its agricultural references to roses and the bustan, the Middle Eastern citrus grove.

An English translation is available via HebrewSongs.com:

Evening of roses
Let’s go out to the grove
Myrrh, perfumes, and incense
Are a threshold at your feet.

The night falls slowly
A breeze of roses blows
Let me whisper a song to you quietly
A song of love.

At dawn, a dove is cooing
Your hair is filled with dew
Your lips to the morning are like a rose
I’ll pick it for myself.

The Hebrew lyrics (written by Moshe Dor, a poet, writer, and journalist born in Tel Aviv in 1932) are also available on line, via Shironet. The music was composed by Yosef Hadar (Tel Aviv 1926 – Even Yehudah 2006), the son of Polish immigrants and the author of many Hebrew songs, especially in the 1940s-1950s.

Here are some musical sources, beginning with Ha-dudaim, of course, whose 1958 version of the song, originally sung by Yaffa Yarkoni (who first recorded it in 1957), made it popular worldwide.

Israeli pop-rock-and-everything-else music icon, Arik Einstein, recorded it as well, 

A late performance of Ha-parvarim (a 1960’s duo that integrated folk guitar accompaniments and Latin American arrangements with the SLI repertoire) shows it performed along with a sing-along crowd, in the style of shirah be-tzibur, or communal singing, which characterized Jewish musical life in mandatory Palestine since before the founding of the State of Israel, and that continues to this day:

But the song has had a longstanding international recognition. See below.

Yaffa Yarkoni, who must have sung this song many a times, recorded it in Spanish:

Greek international star Nana Moskouri with Israeli-French singer Mike Brant:

Harry Belafonte (his Nava nagila is better, though, either solo or with Danny Kaye):

And Miriam Makeba:

As usual, YouTube is full of surprises. See for example Israeli performer Tal Kravitz’s “Israeli-Indian encounter” with Rajendra Prasanna, in a concert sponsored by  the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi:

But the love-theme of the roses (or lilies) can also be challenged. This is undoubtedly the case in Idan Reichel’s song, Shoshanim ‘atzuvot (Sad Roses). You can find the lyrics here.

Erev shel shoshanim, “evening of roses” or “evening of lilies” has been one of the most successful songs from Israel (exception made for Hava nagilah, which was actually from pre-1948 Palestine). It is a love song with clear biblical references (see for example Song of Songs 14:4 for the reference to myrrh, spices, and frankincense), as well as a SLI (Song of the Land of Israel) in its agricultural references to roses and the bustan, the Middle Eastern citrus grove.

Here are some sources, beginning with Ha-dudaim, of course, whose 1958 version of the song, originally sung by Yaffa Yarkoni, made it popular worldwide.

Then, Israeli pop-rock-and-everything-else music icon, Arik Einstein.

Followed by a late performance of Ha-parvarim (a 1960’s duo that integrated folk guitar accompaniments and Latin American arrangements with the SLI repertoire) with a sing-along crowd, in the style of shirah be-tzibur, or communal singing, that characterized Jewish musical life in mandatory Palestine since before the founding of the State of Israel, and that continues to this day:

But the song has had a longstanding international recognition. See below.

Greek international star Nana Moskouri with Israeli-French singer Mike Brant:

Harry Belafonte (his Nava nagila is better, though, either solo or with Danny Kaye):

And Miriam Makeba:

As usual, YouTube is full of surprises. See for example Israeli performer Tal Kravitz’s “Israeli-Indian encounter” with Rajendra Prasanna, in a concert sponsored by  the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi:

But the love-theme of the roses (or lilies) can also be challenged. This is undoubtedly the case in Idan Reichel’s song, Shoshanim ‘atzuvot (Sad Roses). You can find the lyrics here.

At first sight, a veeeeery WaltDisney-esque Song of the Grape Pickers, 1955. The analogy with Snow White’s Hi-Ho holds only insofar as one begins taking into account the real agricultural achievements of the State of Israel, and, even more importantly from our perspective, the role of the early pioneers (chalutzim) and their lives in the Jewish agricultural communes (kibbutzim) in shaping national culture in Israel. Music, and song, and dance, played a central role in all this. We’ll have a week to discuss it. And a whole semester to look at the way in which music relates to, describes, and challenges, the evolving notions of “Land of Israel” (eretz yisrael).

The mother of all Israeli songs (SLI, or “Songs of the Land of Israel), with hauntingly beautiful lyrics (by Naomi Shemer) and an interesting story, to be explored in detail later (the melody is apparently not original; the song itself came to define the Six Day War of 1967, among other things). A very important aspect of this song is that it does embody, in its own 1960’s folk-music way, the multi-millenary Jewish longing for Zion (Jerusalem). In this course, we are devoting a week to this topic, as expressed through poetry and song throughout the Jewish Diaspora for centuries.

The Nachal army ensemble, 1967: a deconstructionist’s dream. Also, a nod at the role of the army in shaping national and musical culture. (A lot) More on this to come.

Idan Reichel, the star of many Jewish organization-sponsored events in North America and beyond; and a true game-changer in the “world music” circuit. This song, which quotes Psalm 130 (mi-ma’amaqim, also known in its Latin incipit, De profundis, or “from the depths, I called you, god”), mixes world music styles, ethnic (mostly, African) sounds and languages, with a Biblical theme.

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO), conducted by Zubin Mehta, performs Israel’s National Anthem (Hatikvah, “The hope”) on top of Masada, the site of a famous and tragic battle between the Jews and the Roman army in ancient Palestine, in a concert held in 1988. The IPO is but one examples of the building of musical institutions (orchestras, academies, broadcasting stations, festivals, competitions, etc.) since before the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, and of their role in shaping national culture. It also has an interesting connection to the San Francisco Bay Area, since the first fundraising event to establish the IPO (then called the Palestine Orchestra) was held in San Francisco in the 1930’s. (BTW, we are devoting one week of class to the many, and interesting, musical connections between Israel and the Bay Area, also with the help of an esteemed guest, Cantor Roslyn Barak, learning about her experiences  living in Israel, performing with the Israel National Opera, the Jerusalem Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic). I chose this video excerpt for a few notable (and slightly wicked) reasons. Note how the audience sings along, and how everyone stands, including the orchestra – except for those who cannot. The violin (solo played by Ori Kam), is in itself a fundamental Jewish musical icon. However, the distortions to the sound caused by the digital transfer from a VHS tape give this recording an involuntary Jimi Hendrix quality that I could not resist to point out.

Fiddler on the Roof, in Hebrew, staged by the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv. From Yiddish, to English, to Hebrew… What are “Jewish languages,” and what is their relationship with music (and sound)?

Essential. Palestinian and/or Arab-Israeli (bring on the hyphens…) rap band, DAM, singing in Hebrew and Arabic about their relationship to the Land (of Israel?). During the class, we are going to explore the role of sounds and music in defining and opposing ethnic, cultural, political, and military conflicts. We are also fortunate to be assisted in this by Professor Ben Brinner (author of Playing Across a Divide) and members of the band, Bustan, who will join the class in March.

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