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Music in Israel | Listening Guide | Week 4 (2013)

Music in Israel | Listening Guide | Week 4 (2013)

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Published by spagnoloacht
Listening guide for Music in Israel students (week 4, Fall 2013).
Listening guide for Music in Israel students (week 4, Fall 2013).

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Published by: spagnoloacht on Sep 18, 2013
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Week 4
1. Nights in Canaan - Early Songs of the Land of Israel (1881-1946), ed. Yakov Mazor This compilation, edited by a legendary Israeli ethnomusicologist (Yakov Mazor, a veteran researcher of the National Sound Archives in Jerusalem), offers an amazing collection of sound documents, and in a way a fascinating historical audio documentary about the creation of “Hebrewism” (refer to RegevSeroussi, Introduction, for the use of this term), which in its musical form is described in the chapters of Hirshberg’s book assigned for this week. The idea behind the compilation is that the Hebrew songs of the chalutzim, the Jewish pioneers in Palestine before the creation of the State of Israel (1882-1946), can best be documented through the testimonies of the pioneers themselves. As Mazor writes in the notes to the CD (available on bSpace), “many of these songs were written by noted poets and professional musicians, and song anthologies printed in this country and elsewhere made a tremendous contribution to the dissemination of Hebrew song from its very beginnings. Accordingly, musicians and musicologists question whether the term ‘folk song’ really suits Hebrew song […]. Whatever the case, an important role was played by the ‘ordinary people’ who wrote Hebrew texts and composed new melodies, translated foreign songs, adapted existing melodies to new texts and transplanted songs from one geographical region to another and from one generation to the next.” The old Songs of the Land of Israel (SLI) presented in this CD are sung by many of those ‘ordinary people,’ recorded in their old age (they were born between the years 1905-1923). A sample of the musical anthologies printed in Palestine at the time can be found in the Classified Palestine Songs (available on ERes). More information about cultural life in Palestine before 1948 can be found in the selection from Tom Segev’s book assigned for this week (also available on bSpace). Explore the following tracks, all very short examples, paying special attention to the origins of both text and melody as described in the CD liner notes. Some songs are the recollection of individual informants; others reflect the habit developed among pioneers to have group sing-along performances (in Hebrew, shirah be-tzibur), described in the sections of Hirschberg’s book assigned for this week. You also want to be aware, and somewhat respectful, of the age of the informants (see Week 1 Listening assignment handout for the use of this term in ethnomusicology): most of them are not professional performers: What are your reactions to the sound of their voices? Here are four groups of songs: listen to as many as you like, but focus on one in each group. a) Hebrew lyrics added to pre-existing melodies Tracks 6-7: Yiddish and Hebrew texts based on the melody of a Polish folk song. Tracks 18-19 and 32: love song in Arabic and its Hebrew permutations (the song gives the title to the whole anthology). b) Hebrewism Track 14: Song reflecting the inspiration that Hebrewism drew from medieval Hebrew poetry. Track 21: Setting of a poem by the Hebrewist national poet, Chayyim Nachman Bialik (1873-1934). Track 25: Song written mainly for children, expressing the orientalistic trend that pervaded the melodies composed for Hebrew lyrics since the 1920’s. c) Pioneer life Track 1: Song celebrating agricultural life, the ultimate pioneering ideal. Track 11: This song, already known in Lithuanians yeshives (Talmudic religious schools in eastern Europe), “was apparently sung in agricultural settlements in times of crisis.” Track 24: Song celebrating the flute as the quintessential shepherd’s instrument (we will develop this ‘pastoral theme’ in class during the coming week). d) Political songs Track 8: Hebrew version of a song of the Komsomol (the Soviet Communist youth movement). Track 27: This song reflects the repertoire of the Zionist-Revisionist party, a current of Zionism active both in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora, inspired by a militaristic/nationalistic agenda. Track 28: A song from the repertoire of the Jewish Brigade that fought in the British Army during WW2. 2. Ben-Haim, Paul. Piano Music of Paul Ben-Haim Track 4: Melody and Variations, Op. 42 (1950) We will be listening to more of Paul Ben-Haim’s music next week (born in Munich as Paul Frankenberg in 1897, he immigrated to Palestine in 1933, and died in 1984). His “Melody and Variations” originate from the composer’s contributions to the creation of Israeli musical culture. Ben-Haim arranged songs of the Jewish ethnic communities of the Middle East, and performed for the Palestine Broadcast Service (radio founded in 1936). The melody was originally written for children and piano beginners.

Note: All required sound files and CD booklets available on bSpace.

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