What Makes Jewish Music Jewish?

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  • #614454
    haifagirl
    Participant

    We’ve had a lot of discussion over the years about non-Jewish music. But what makes Jewish music Jewish?

    Are there certain modes that are Jewish? Is Dorian more Jewish than Mixolydian?

    Are certain Jewish? What about a perfect 5th? Or a tritone?

    Is a descending major 2nd followed by an ascending diminished 7th more Jewish than an ascending minor 6th followed by an ascending augmented 4th?

    Please help me understand. I would really like to know why some music is “Jewish” and other music isn’t.

    #1051246
    nishtdayngesheft
    Participant

    Is “Are certain Jewish?” A proper English sentence?

    What makes it so?

    #1051247
    haifagirl
    Participant

    My brain goes so fast my fingers can’t keep up. That should have said:

    Are certain intervals Jewish?

    Thank you for pointing it out.

    #1051248
    TheGoq
    Participant

    Can anyone one suggest any Jewish English songs that are soul stirring besides Journeys which of course I love.

    #1051249
    oomis
    Participant

    Some Country Yossi pieces (“The Deaf Man in the Shteeble”), and yes, ANYTHING by Journeys. “Variations” by Gershon Veroba has some beautiful pieces set to secular music, to be sure, but the lyrics are truly uplifting (AND THAT IS WHAT MAKES THEM JEWISH SONGS).

    #1051250
    Joseph
    Participant

    On some of the older threads some have advanced this notion that if a (even secular) Jew wrote the song, however unjewish it may be, it is therefore a “Jewish song”.

    Well, here are some songs that have been composed by Jews. (Yes, you can go ahead and verify this):

    #1051251
    TheGoq
    Participant

    True Lior their music is not Jewish music but they were Jews.

    #1051252
    haifagirl
    Participant

    AND THAT IS WHAT MAKES THEM JEWISH SONGS

    I didn’t ask about Jewish SONGS, I asked about Jewish MUSIC. So far I haven’t been given an answer. Perhaps there is no answer. Perhaps there’s no such thing as Jewish or non-Jewish music.

    #1051254
    TheGoq
    Participant

    So Oomis are you saying there are no songs written and sung by gentiles that can lift up the soul?

    #1051255
    oomis
    Participant

    Absolutely not saying that, Goq. I have heard MANY beautiful songs that lifted my spirits that were absolutely non-Jewish composed. When I listen to a good piece of classical music, or when I hear the music of Les Miserables (“Bring him home”), I am incredibly moved. Music that is beautiful, is uplifting, no matter who makes that music. Much of what passes for music today, however, is noise IMO.

    #1051256
    TheGoq
    Participant

    I agree whole heartedly Oomis.

    #1051257
    golfer
    Participant

    Yes, Haifagirl. I saw your question and was very interested in an answer. I don’t pretend to know enough about music to have offered one of my own. Apparently I’m not the only one. I checked back in to find what the CR came up with but, as you already noticed, your question was misunderstood. Perhaps you’re right and there is no way to easily identify Jewish music?

    I wonder if what makes music Jewish is not the tune or cadence or key. I’ve been thinking it might have more to do with the identity and, especially, the intention of the composer, than with specific sequences of notes.

    #1051258

    Whatever makes you get closer to G-d.

    But be careful, sometimes you feel it will but it’s superficial.

    Way to tell:

    Think about this, if you had to have mincha RIGHT after hearing the song would it be better, worse or the same?

    But of course, in spirituality there is no saying the same. You either go up or down.

    We had this convo in school last week.

    #1051259
    flatbusher
    Participant

    Jewish music seems to reflect the particular society in which it arises. Hence, in the U.S., American pop music has a strong influence while in the middle east it has more of a flavor from that region. Unfortunately, secular music is often ripped off (with or without permission of the copyright holder) with new, Jewish-oriented lyrics applied. I guess that makes it Jewish. In terms of Jewish style, much of Jewish music is composed in minor keys, though there are many of nigunim that sound like marches that even if composed by a frum person, is obviously influenced by the surroundings.

    #1051260
    apushatayid
    Participant

    How did you get to second base so quickly. why assume that some of what passes for “music” is in fact, music? Is noise set to a disco beat, music?

    #1051261
    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    Any sound that is pleasant to people to the point that they choose to buy it is music.

    #1051262
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    What makes mexican music mexican?

    What makes russian music russian?

    What makes arabic music arabic?

    There are certain musical structures that are distintive in Jewish music. Not sure what the quuestion was.

    #1051263
    haifagirl
    Participant

    It seems, from the replies, that there is no agreed-upon definition of “Jewish music.” That raises the question of whether or not there is such a thing as “Jewish music.” If there isn’t such a thing as “Jewish music,” can there be “non-Jewish music”?

    #1051264

    I guess there’s no such thing as Mexican, Russian, or Arabic (or for that matter, non-Mexican, non-Russian, or non-Arabic) music either.

    #1051265
    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    Those would be defined mostly by the language.

    #1051266
    golfer
    Participant

    Haifag, people who refrain from listening to “non-Jewish music” are not avoiding a precise tempo, key, or sequences of notes. They don’t listen to music with secular lyrics that has been composed by, and disseminated to, the non-Jewish population. Generally, if the intent is to provoke behaviors that are not in keeping with our standards (which can usually be discerned), the music is frowned upon.

    I know this answer won’t satisfy completely. Mozart and Beethoven were not Jewish and their music is considered by just about everyone to be acceptable. And too many Jewish singers and composers to list plagiarized or parodized (-not a word? I’m sure you know what I’m saying-) non-Jewish songs. But it’s the best I can do for now.

    If you are sincerely interested in staying away from music that’s not good for your Neshama, then a good barometer is your own Neshama’s reaction to the music you’re listening to.

    #1051267

    The levi’im played music in the Beis HaMikdash, we know it is a crutial part of our religion and a key avodah of hakadosh baruch hu.

    Jewish music is music of kedusha, that has the potential to bring you closer to God by listening to it.

    Goyish music is music that is loud, trance and club type music.

    What is scary is how much of this supposed jewish music is so goyish. I was once playing a Shwekey song and my roommate not realizing what i was playing asked me to put on a jewish song not an english one, when i told him this was jewish he was stunned.

    Adding words of the torah hakadosha to a tumahdik song is a bushah. Leave the loud, club msic for the goyim, and let us enjoy real-god connecting music.

    Shlomo and Eitan Katz, Yehudah Green, Anythign Chassidish, calrebach, shalsheles, lev tahor + many more… these are real buitiful holy songs, but the new Garbage “””Jewish””” music is an embarrassment to the words they put the song to.

    People rip that listening to carlebach is wrong becuase he did some bad things, but they are ok listening to music that was written by Black Eyed Peas and Eminem (eventhough the words were added by Shwekey or the Chevra).

    #1051268

    Would you consider reading some of Wikipedia’s

    numerous articles about Jewish music, Haifagirl?

    #1051269
    haifagirl
    Participant

    If you are sincerely interested in staying away from music that’s not good for your Neshama, then a good barometer is your own Neshama’s reaction to the music you’re listening to.

    I never said I was interested in staying away from any type of music. It’s just that I am fascinated by all the discussions in CR about non-Jewish music. I’m curious as to how one defines music as being “Jewish” or “non-Jewish.”

    Remember, I’m talking about MUSIC, not LYRICS.

    #1051270
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Better question is what makes jewish music music

    #1051271
    harvey613
    Member

    Shlomo and Eitan Katz, Yehudah Green, Anythign Chassidish, calrebach, shalsheles, lev tahor + many more… these are real buitiful holy songs, but the new Garbage “””Jewish””” music is an embarrassment to the words they put the song to.

    People rip that listening to carlebach is wrong becuase he did some bad things, but they are ok listening to music that was written by Black Eyed Peas and Eminem (eventhough the words were added by Shwekey or the Chevra).

    Lev Tahor actually uses non-Jewish material a lot – such as the introduction to “Asher Bara” from their second album.

    As far as I know, the Chevra’s music has been completely original.

    #1051272

    A Jewish mother

    #1051273

    Well thinking about this last night it could mean 2 different things.

    1) Jewish music, like there is muslim music and christian music, so there is religous jewish music. (which is prob. what you mean)

    This refers to music that helps you with your religion, get closer to Hashem.

    This is what the OP meant.

    2) Jewish music, arabic, chinese music…

    Jews are the only religion that is also a nation. (Technically, muslims are a type of arab)

    #1051274

    I can’t tell if Includinghashem’s post was sincere or a

    parody/troll, but either way, I don’t remember seeing anywhere

    that Yaakov Shwekey has used secular tunes*, and I also

    doubt any Jewish musician has used Eminem (Google not

    finding anything about that is virtually proof).

    *

    Yes, I know he sang “You Raise Me Up” live.

    #1051275

    Was your opening post meant to test our musical knowledge, Haifagirl?

    (I pass, my modal ignorance aside).

    #1051276

    Shopping613 makes a point about distinguishing

    between religious and ethnic music.

    Here are Wikipedia’s definitions of the accepted music classifications,

    as well as “Jewish music” (from each one’s article):

    Jewish music is the music and melodies of the Jewish people. There exist both traditions of religious music, as sung at the synagogue and domestic prayers, and of secular music, such as klezmer. While some elements of Jewish music may originate in biblical times, differences of rhythm and sound can be found among later Jewish communities that have been musically influenced by location.

    Religious music is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence.

    [Ed. note: This is not a fully independent class, that is, music of any type listed below can be religious music as well.]

    Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, or as music with unknown composers. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. One meaning often given is that of old songs, with no known composers; another is music that has been transmitted and evolved by a process of oral transmission or performed by custom over a long period of time.

    The term popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres “having wide appeal” and typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local audiences. The original application of the term is to music of the 1880s Tin Pan Alley period in the United States.

    Let’s talk about what Jewish music falls into which category, shall we?

    #1051277
    haifagirl
    Participant

    Let me re-phrase my question somewhat. To those people who listen to only “Jewish” music, how can you tell? What distinguishes it from “non-Jewish” music?

    #1051278

    The Goq, you can try Eli Nathan’s “Destiny” series (the first album is good – I don’t know the others), and I’d suggest the following Country Yossi songs:

    Vol. 2: “Make-Believe” and “Ahvaira”

    Vol. 3: “Tick-Tock (Al Tomar)”

    Vol. 5: “I Will Follow Him” and “Mitzvah Tantz (The Wedding’s Over)”

    Vol. 6: “I Am the Flower,” “Rav Shmuel and the Myrtle Twig,”

    “Good Morning Klal Yisroel,” and, especially, “Elan Elan.”

    These I Remember: Most of the album.

    #1051279
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Let me re-phrase my question somewhat. To those people who listen to only “Jewish” music, how can you tell? What distinguishes it from “non-Jewish” music?

    You know, just because I can’t give you an all encompassing definition, doesn’t mean I am not able to recognize it as a practical matter in a sufficient way.

    I can’t define stainless steel either, but I know what it is.

    And I certainly can’t define obscenity, but I know it when Justice Stewart sees it.

    #1051280

    Do you object to Golfer’s answer, music created by and for non-Jews?

    http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/coffeeroom/topic/what-makes-jewish-music-jewish#post-550305

    #1051281

    Haifagirl, rephrasing the question doesn’t change much; just because people on the CR can’t describe (in musical terms or otherwise) what Jewish music sounds like, don’t dismiss the notion that there is, in fact, music which can be categorized as Jewish.

    #1051282

    I would reject any position which required hearing

    music to determine whether it is Jewish or not.

    #1051283

    When someone talks about only listening to “Jewish music,” I think what they actually mean is “Orthodox Jewish music.” Does anyone disagree?

    #1051284
    Patur Aval Assur
    Participant

    What DaasYochid meant to say was: “There is, in fact, music which can be categorized as Jewish, even if I can’t link to it on hebrewbooks. You are confusing proof with being right.”

    #1051285
    haifagirl
    Participant

    Do you object to Golfer’s answer, music created by and for non-Jews?

    But how would one recognize it as such? I remember playing a piece (I wish I could remember the name of it) that one member of the band described as “Star Wars Meets Klezmer.” Many of us agreed that it was an accurate description. I believe that means it sounded “Jewish.” It was written by Michael Reilly (he’s not Jewish). I don’t believe he had any intention of marketing it to any particular ethnic group. Is that Jewish music?

    Is Ilya Levinson’s “Klezmer Rhapsody” Jewish music? I never asked him who his intended audience was, but I believe he wrote it for the soloist with the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band.

    #1051286
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Real Jewish Music is not what we call today “Jewish Music” real jewish music is Klezmer, which is hardly played today, there are a few non-relgious jews who keep klezmer alive but for the most part its dead.

    Klezer uses certain instruments (I think like the Saxaphone)

    If you arent sure what Klezmer is, Hava Negiliah is a Klezmer song (No its not relgious and wasnt meant to be, but at the time all jewish music sounded that way)

    #1051287

    Zahavasdad, please explain what “real Jewish music” means to you, keeping in mind that according to Wikipedia, “the style and structure of klezmer as we know it today is thought to have come largely from 19th century Bessarabia, where the bulk of today’s traditional repertoire was written.”

    (And why would we have let “real Jewish music” die?)

    #1051288

    Haifagirl, I think we should express Golfer’s answer as follows:

    Jewish music, as far as those opposed to non-Jewish music are

    concerned, is created by Orthodox Jews, for Orthodox Jews.

    (Additionally, they may be concerned about non-Jewish musical influence on by-and-for-Orthodox-Jews Jewish music.)

    Your examples thus no longer pose a challenge, even if,

    musically speaking, they are Jewish music.

    #1051289
    apushatayid
    Participant

    “Goyish music is music that is loud, trance and club type music.”

    If thats the case, we danced keitzad mirakdim to goyish music last night.

    #1051290
    apushatayid
    Participant

    “real jewish music is Klezmer, which is hardly played today,”

    I guess more than half the jewish world didnt play jewish music, ever. know any popular sephardic Klezmer musicians?

    “Klezer uses certain instruments (I think like the Saxaphone)”

    Bill Clinton plays the saxaphone, his music could hardly be called Klezmer.

    #1051291
    golfer
    Participant

    Zdad, if we’re getting technical here then klezmer music is not totally, exclusively, authentic Jewish music. First of all it only belongs to Ashkenazi Jews, and not even all Ashkenazim. Its roots are in Eastern Europe and it’s heavily influenced by gypsy (I believe they prefer to be called Roma today) music. Our real music is, as we all know, the music of the Leviim. There is a niggun I’ve heard (in some Kehillos it’s used on Yom Kippur) that some say was sung in the Bais Hamikdash. No idea if this is factual. But klezmer music has as much a right to call itself authentic Jewish music as many non-klezmer niggunim composed by Jews. Maybe less. Because while we are always somewhat influenced by our surrounding culture, the influence is sometimes less pronounced. I’d choose the Baal Shem Tov’s niggun over klezmer if I wanted a Jewish sound. And I’m sure 10 other Jews would choose ten different compositions.

    Hatikvah, anyone? (Yes, bit of plagiarism in there too…)

    And I’ve been waiting for someone to mention Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.

    Or Shlomo Carlebach.

    Or (should I put in “lehavdil”?) the music of the Chassidic court of their choice.

    Can we all at least agree that listening to Arba Bavot does not evoke the same feelings as, Lehavdil Elef Alfei Havdalos, listening to eminem.

    #1051292

    Saying that a genre uses a certain instrument in no way implies that any music made with that instrument is of that genre, Apushatayid.

    #1051293
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    I think Klezmer has died because jewish people dont play those instruments anymore, Not many frum people play anything except Keyboard, Guitar or Drums

    Klezmer used alot of wind instruments, I looked at Wikipedia and it said Clarinet and Trumpet (Also Saxophone), those are what I was thinking of

    You dont have to be jewish to play Klezmer, its just the style. The Saxophone does not make one a Klezmer, Its the style not instrument

    #1051294
    Patur Aval Assur
    Participant

    From an interview with Yossi Green:

    Jewish Community Radio: Mr. Green, I ask this of a lot of different musicians that we interview; what exactly is Jewish music?

    Jewish Community Radio: Almost like Simon and Garfunkel.

    #1051295
    nishtdayngesheft
    Participant

    “Real Jewish Music is not what we call today “Jewish Music” real jewish music is Klezmer, which is hardly played today, there are a few non-relgious jews who keep klezmer alive but for the most part its dead.”

    I have a hard time accepting the definition of what is or isn’t Jewish from someone whose knowledge of ??? ??????, which is described by ???? as ???? ?????, is from, as he himself stated on another thread, his Christian friends.

    ????.

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