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Dear Class,

As listed in our Course Syllabus, as well as announced and explained during lectures and discussion sections, next week we will be having a Midterm exam.

The exam will take place during lecture time (please be on time!), at 2121 Allston Way, on Thursday, October 31, 2013. 


As I explained in class, my approach to testing for this course is in line with the understanding that there are many concurring, and at times conflicting, ideas, perspectives, and “listening modes” involved in the topic we are all researching together (“Music in Israel”). The format of the Midterm will represent an attempt to be coherent with this approach: it will try to build on the idea that, as a class, we can also work collaboratively, and that the sum of our collective knowledge is greater that its parts (each of our own backgrounds, perspectives, individual understanding of course materials, etc.). Therefore, we will work towards making good use of the almost three days of brain power (52 participants, including instructors, times ca. 80 minutes of lecture time = ca. 70 hours) that are available to us during each of our lecture meetings, in order to re-think what has been covered by our course thus far. The key is not to have all materials memorized, but to be able to quickly access all relevant information, to “connect the dots,” and to be able to elaborate on it all, on the basis of the tools built in class and of each student’s individual work preparing for it. 

How to prepare

You are required to review all work for Music in Israel since the beginning of the Semester. Please focus on the following:

  • Class Syllabus
  • Weekly Assignment Sheets (Week 1 through Week 9), and the listening assignments listed (and explained) in each of them, as well as the related reading materials (all sheets, articles, CD booklets, and links are available on bSpace)
  • Course Blog and the resources listed on it 

What to bring (“packing list’)

  • Yourselves (attendance is mandatory!)
  • Personal computers (laptops, tablets, etc.), with access to AirBears and bDrive, as well as the electronic resources of the UC Berkeley Library (we will also have a few laptops/tablets available for you in case you cannot bring your own) 
  • Class materials (books, articles, mp3 files, etc.; all except for one book also available online)
  • Weekly Assignment Sheets/listening guides
  • Paper and pens/pencils or other materials to take/sketch notes
  • Musical instruments, puppets, etc.: anything that you feel may help you in successfully work on the Midterm exam 


During the week after the Midterm, Rachel and I will be collecting anonymous feedback on the course. As we move towards the last third of the Semester, we are particularly interested in better understanding how the tools, methodologies, and ideas introduced thus far work for the class, and individually for those of you who wish to provide some additional thoughts about them. 


This year on Independence Day – the annual day of celebration that follows yom hazikharon, a remembrance day for those fallen in Israel’s many wars and conflicts, which we have studied in musical terms in the course of the semester – the State of Israel turns 64.


We are marking this day by taking a look at the significance of music in Israel beyond its (often contested) geographical borders, and we tune into its Jazz scene, a scene that has now been marketed for some time well beyond Israel itself. We discussed this several weeks ago with our “Skype guest,” Yoram Morad.

We are pleased to welcome to class guitarist Gilad Hekselman. Gilad is in the Bay Area for the Israeli JazzFest , which is taking place this week as part of SFJAZZ.

Gilad Hekselman is a remarkable young guitarist who has recorded and performed with a host of established jazz veterans including Chris Potter, John Scofield, Gretchen Parlato, Aaron Parks, Sam Yahel and Jeff “Tain” Watts. He won the 2005 Gibson Montreaux International Guitar Competition and has issued three outstanding recordings, including 2011’s Hearts Wide Open, which was selected by The New York Times as one of the best jazz releases of the year.

Here is Gilad at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 2006.


As I announced in class last week, the conflict with another event that had been previously scheduled at The Magnes for tomorrow, Tuesday April 17, 2012, is providing us with the welcome opportunity to be the guests of our neighbors across the street, The Marsh Arts Center.

Class will meet there (2120 Allston Way), at the usual time. Please be punctual, so that we can all enjoy some of the student performances planned for this semester:

  • Hannah Glass will present her research on creating a new fusion genre based on the various musical cultures explored in class
  • Steven Yang (violin) and Michelle Lin (cello) will present their work on klezmer genres
  • Ran Zhang will present her work on cross-cultural performance practice, and play two Israeli songs on the gu zheng (the link only works with a UC Berkeley secure connection)

This all looks (and sounds) quite promising, and we are indeed very fortunate to be able to use a fully equipped art performance space this week.

See you tomorrow!

P.S. I will be posting specific listening assignments for this week’s lecture (Thursday) on bspace and the blog as usual. As you recall, there is no longer a need to submit written responses at this point. I graded all assignments last week. Instead, we will be discussing plans for the upcoming Final (refer to the syllabus for the date).

After the proposals were submitted by the students in the class, I summarized their topics in seven distinct categories and created a graph that represented them.

Class Projects Topics Graph

Last week, we discussed sharing the actual proposals, so here you go:

View this document on Scribd

They present an impressive set of ideas, and truly give a sense of how the collective mind of the class is developing.

I found this among the files for a class I taught some years ago. It should still work…

Guidelines for Mus139 Weekly Responses

There are some excellent resources available online.

The National Sound Archives of the National Library of Israel have published a playlist of early sound recordings, streaming online, including among other things two recordings of the boys choir conducted by Abraham Zvi Idelsohn in Jerusalem, recorded in 1922. You can listen to it here.

The Spielberg Film Archive of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has an excellent YouTube channel, which includes seventy film clips documenting life in pre-1948 Palestine (for a total of almost 28 hours of online video).

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