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Case Study No. 3 | Sound Objects (2013)

Case Study No. 3 | Sound Objects (2013)

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Sound Objects combines the study of Jewish material culture with the emerging field of sound studies and investigates the role of objects that emit sound during synagogue rituals. The exhibition includes a selection of more than sixty objects, textiles, books, manuscripts and photographs from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life documenting ritual in the global Diaspora. It also integrates on-site display with online resources that comprise images, texts, and the sounds recorded by “playing” several of the ritual objects on view.

Francesco Spagnolo, Curator
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life
University of California, Berkeley

more at http://bit.ly/sound-objects
Sound Objects combines the study of Jewish material culture with the emerging field of sound studies and investigates the role of objects that emit sound during synagogue rituals. The exhibition includes a selection of more than sixty objects, textiles, books, manuscripts and photographs from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life documenting ritual in the global Diaspora. It also integrates on-site display with online resources that comprise images, texts, and the sounds recorded by “playing” several of the ritual objects on view.

Francesco Spagnolo, Curator
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life
University of California, Berkeley

more at http://bit.ly/sound-objects

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categoriesTypes, Research
Published by: The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life on Jan 16, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/31/2014

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The Magnes Collectionof Jewish Art and Life
The Bancroft LibraryUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley
Warren Hellman Gallery  January 22-June 28, 2013 
 
Case Study No. 3 | Sound Objects 
takes the “CaseStudies” series of The Magnes in a new direction. Theexhibition was created in collaboration with the studentsof the undergraduate research seminar,
Performing Texts: Music, Liturgy and Jewish Life 
, offered by theDepartment of Music of the University of California,Berkeley, and taught by Francesco Spagnolo at TheMagnes in the Fall of 2012. During the semester,students worked closely with the holdings of TheMagnes and developed research projects describingselect items included in the exhibition.
Francesco Spagnolo, CuratorJulie Franklin, RegistrarTed Foley, Head Preparator
In collaboration with UC Berkeley students:
•
Nelia Barkhordar—Integrative Biology, 2013
•
Matthew Chunghyuk—Music, 2013
•
Jennifer Kashani—Psychology, 2013
•
Kayla Kliger—Spanish, 2013
•
Benjamin Kramarz—M.A., Folklore, 2014
•
Pauline Loghmana—Psychology, 2013
•
Benjamin Rangell—History and Near EasternLanguages (Hebrew), 2012
•
Wing Yan Yeung—Music, 2012Point your smartphone or tablet to
bit.ly/sound-objects
to play exhibition sounds.Sounds were created with an iPhone 4S using theSoundCloud app.
 
Sound Objects 
combines the study of Jewish material
culturewiththeemergingeldofsoundstudiesand
investigates the role of objects that emit sound duringsynagogue rituals. The exhibition includes a selectionof more than sixty objects, textiles, books, manuscriptsand photographs from The Magnes Collection of JewishArt and Life documenting ritual in the global Diaspora. Italso integrates on-site display with online resources thatcomprise images, texts, and the sounds recorded by“playing” several of the ritual objects on view.Many of the objects used in the course of synagoguerituals generate sound. Some are designed to produce
specicsounds,suchasthe
shofar 
, the horn blownin the synagogue during the month of Elul (precedingthe New Year), on Rosh Ha-shanah and Yom Kippur,or the noisemakers used during the reading of theBook of Esther on Purim. Since the process of JewishEmancipation in 19th-century Europe, many synagogueshave incorporated musical instruments into the ritual,including the organ. But there are many other ritualobjects that are often designed to emit sound—the onesdedicated to the embellishing, storing, carrying andreading of the Torah scrolls, as well as those used in the
havdalah 
ceremony that marks the end of the Sabbathand holidays—even though sound-making is not theirprimary function.Jewish ritual sound objects are not musical instruments
per se 
. Rather, they are at times adorned with pendantsor bells, or made with movable parts, which rattle, ring,or otherwise make sound when they are used. Theirsonic power is only apparently unintentional. The soundsthey emit cannot be avoided, and sound-making partsare constitutive of their shapes, forms, and functions.While the sounds made by voices and musicalinstruments during ritual are closely regulated by rabbinicauthorities, the sounds made by objects are not. Aperformative approach to the study of ritual objects maythus shed a different light on an important aspect ofJewish life outside the scope of normative religion, andyet one that is located at its very core: ritual, including thepublic reading of the Hebrew Bible in synagogue liturgy.
—Francesco Spagnolo, Curator

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