Archives for posts with tag: yiddish

Popular Music: Famous Israeli Songs in Israel and Around the World
Xulan Zhang

Objective:

Through this presentation, we’ll explore topic of how certain Israeli songs become famous worldwide and the preserve and transformation of performance form, context and people’s interpretation of these songs when they went “globalized”.  And try to answer the question: Is the music a universal  language or a mirror that reflects the difference between different cultures?

Case 1:  Donna Donna

Origin: Yiddish theater song written in the time of Nazi

Performance form: a duo of a man and a woman, choral with the orchestral accompaniment

Became popular when American country music singer Joan Baez performed it in English with guitar.

Represented spirit of freedom in Israel during the WWII.

Became a worldwide symbolic song for people who are pursuing freedom.

Case 2: Hallelujah

Origin: sung by the Israeli band Hakol Over Habibi for 1978’s Eurovision’s competition

Became popular when it was performed by Gali Atari and Milk & Honey song in 1979 and won the competition for Israel as the hosting country

Performance form: alternate among 1 female voice and 3 male voices

The song roused the national pride in successfully winning and hosting Eurovision Competition.

Case 3: Diva

Origin: sung by Dana International, an Israeli transsexual singer

Performance form: It was originally only performed in the form of singing on the competition but later on was added the dancing part

Became highly popular after Dana International performed this song in Eurovision 1998.

But in its own country, Dana International’s big success triggered controversy.

Conclusion: Through these three different cases, I see music’s role both as a universal language that connects people from different culture and a mirror that reflects cultural gap.

Resources:

Text:

  1. Regev, Motti and Edwin Seroussi , Popular Music and National Culture in Israel
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donna_Donna  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallelujah_(Gali_Atari_and_Milk_%26_Honey_song)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diva_(Dana_International_song)

  1. http://www.metrolyrics.com/donna-donna-lyrics-joan-baez.html

http://www.metrolyrics.com/diva-lyrics-dana-international.html

  1. http://www.hebrewsongs.com/?song=haleluyah-eurovision
  2. http://members3.jcom.home.ne.jp/goetheschubert/Donaenglish.htm
  3. http://www.friendsreunited.com/dana-international-diva/Memory/69dd2604-4ae2-41ed-8453-a1b900fbd9de

Video:

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqzGZ5AaeSs
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C33kO3fvjkI
  3. http://www.friendsreunited.com/dana-international-diva/Memory/69dd2604-4ae2-41ed-8453-a1b900fbd9de

 

 

 

Inspired by the recent FB love stories between Israeli and Iranian youth (which were brought to my attention by a student in the class, who sent me a link to this article) I went back to researching the fate of the music of Iranian Jews in Israel.

Instead of lingering on how this very important group of musical traditions is often a misrepresented topic (especially in the US) – including the fact that there are virtually no examples from this region in the online playlists of the National Sound Archives of the National Library of Israel – I went down a little YouTube path.

This included a required stop by the many songs of Iranian-born Israeli pop singer, Rita (Rita Yahan-Farouz), from shvil habrichah (“Escape Route”: lyrics found here), the song that, presented at the Israeli pre-Eurovision contest, brought her to fame in 1986:

And to Rita’s more recent ethnic tinge:

And a live video of her latest Persian single, Shaneh:

But this search also led me back to my favorite interpreter among the younger generation of Israeli-Iranians, Morin Nehedar. (I met Morin when we were both students at the Hebrew University).

You can find several of her live performances, and those of many other artists, on the Youtube channel of the Persian TV in Israel. Looking up Morin on YouTube, in turn, brought me to watch a couple of samples from a program entitled Ibudim (“settings”), subtitled “new lives for forgotten texts.” Here she is, performing an original setting of echad ohev et ha-zahav (One Loves Gold, text here), a poem by Ya’aqov Steinberg (1887–1947), Yiddish and Hebrew poet, short-story writer, essayist, critic, and translator, who moved from Warsaw to Palestine in 1914 and stopped writing in Yiddish in favor of Hebrew (full bio in the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe).

The program, which was organized by Bet Avi Chai, included another setting of the same poem, by Shlomi Saban:

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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