Klezmer fiddle

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Klezmer (Yiddish: Klezmer (כליזמר or קלעזמער, pl. כליזמר, כליזמרים, from the Hebrew כלי זמר meaning "vessel of song") is a genre of fiddle music rooted in the medieval shtetl (villages) of Eastern Europe, where wandering Ashkenazi[1] musicians (Klezmorim) played at bar mitzvahs, weddings and holidays (simkhes).[2] ritual of rabbinic Judaism.[3]

Influences[edit]

Antecedents[edit]

Some academic musicologists[4] suggest that ancient Semitic traditions preceded and influenced, along with Tanahk hymns,[5] Greek Pythagorean music. It consisted of a blend of dance tunes, liturgy and meditative chants (nigunim). Richard J. Dumbrill of City University of New York traced the evolution of Jewish harp, balags, lyre, lute and aerophone instrumental music in the ancient Near East.[6] Following the destruction of the second Temple, all rejoicing and use of musical instruments was banned, with the exception of occasional use of the Rams Horn (Shofar).[citation needed]

Medieval[edit]

Traditions combined in medieval klezmer include Greek, Turkish, Slavic and later, Jazz. Some modern bands, like the Klezmatics, incorporate gospel, punk, Arab, African, and Balkan rhythms.[7]

History[edit]

Mel Bay music writer Chris Haigh, who himself performs in Klezmer bands, is one of the more prolific and popular writers on the topic, and he makes numerous assertions regarding the history of klezmer music which he does not corroborate with academic references. He contends that klezmer musicians constituted a hereditary profession with a "secret language" supported by guilds, starting out in Prague 1558 with the fidl for a logo, and a fiddler leading the band with second or third fiddles for harmony and rhythmic support. Other centres of klezmorim included Odessa, Ukraine, which to this day hosts annual Rosh Hashanah gatherings with tremendous music and dance. In the past there have been clashes with the authorities at these gatherings, regarding vending licenses and similar issues.[citation needed] Haupt notes the history of persecution by the Gentile authorities in medieval Christian Europe, but does not link the much-discussed, long-standing history of anti-Semitism with perceptions of secretiveness and proximity to criminality, which he reiterates in his version of klezmer historiography. For example, pressure from non-Jewish musicians ensured that in Prague, it was over a century before the Klezmer Guild was given permission for its members to play at non-Jewish functions. One way around these labyrinthine laws was to pretend to be professional Romani musicians.

Repertoire[edit]

Klezmer music incorporates ritualistic aspects of Hebrew culture but also incorporates non-Jewish waltzes, polkas or mazurka. The NIGUN (from the Hebrew lenagen, to play music) is the wordless melody used in liturgy and adopted by klezmer musicians.[2] According to Bob Cohen,[8] "the Jewish fiddle style is one form of east European fiddle which, like Gypsy fiddle styles, served to play several repertoires and styles." He laments, however, the difficulty for music historians in that "by the time of the 'klezmer revival' there were very few Jewish fiddlers left to learn from".

Bulgareasca[edit]

In the early 19th century, Russia took over Moldava from the Ottomans and increased liberality led to migration and contact between Jews and Bulgarians which led to "shoulder out the sher" and freylechs styles. The end result was the use of triplets to a new extent in klezmer music.

Horas[edit]

Khosidl[edit]

This is an Hasidic dance; a derivative of zemerl. The time signature is typically 2
4
or 4
4
. This music usually begins at a moderate tempo and accelerates.[2]

The Hora[edit]

Examples include Bessarabian Hora.[citation needed]

Klezmer in fusion with other styles[edit]

As described above, all klezmer is eclectic, and thus the term fusion, as used with references to combinations of disparate genres, may be redundant, but some klezmer musicians combine the specific eclecticism of klezmer with very specific genres such as rock, dub or reggae.[9] Russian classic romance music borrowed klezmer fiddling techniques, so do some of the more modern musical styles derived from Russian romance, such as shanson. An up an coming new genre of Jewish-influenced music is "Jewgrass", which is a combination of bluegrass and other American folk genres. The lyrics are generally satirical and sung in English as opposed to Yiddish or Hebrew. Klezmer is one of many kinds of Jewish folk music that has contributed to Jewgrass.

Style[edit]

Lubliner Klezmorim, Warsaw

Klezmer fiddle is melancholy and portrays a wide range of mood, including religious ecstasy. It draws heavily on the tradition of learning in Judaism, and particularly on the long-standing tradition of excellence in violin work as exhibited by Heifetz, Menuhin, and so many others. This attitude towards the use of the violin differs from the distinct traditions of Irish fiddle or Old time fiddle which place less emphasis on technical musical ability. Thus, klezmer is more complex and utilizes more difficult techniques such as playing in the third, fourth and even fifth position - techniques which are basic to violinists but seldom used by fiddle players.[citation needed]

Dissonance is frequently employed harmonically, and accidentals are used quite freely, creating the signature mood and tones of klezmer. This dissonance is created by using complex scales.

Ornaments[edit]

Trills (Dreydlakh) are slower and less dense than the trills used in classical or Celtic. Cohen contends that "one form of trill is actually a slow sliding back and forth of the finger – primitive wah-wah" and that often the trills are executed on two strings at once.

Proponents of the style[edit]

Klezmatics

Cohen asserts that "Michael Alpert of Brave Old World, Alicia Svigals of the Klezmatics, and Steven Greenman of Khevrisa" are the most reliable proponents of this tradition.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hankus Netsky, "American Klezmer: A Brief History" from American Klezmer: Its Roots and Offshoots Ed. Mark Slobin, p.13
  2. ^ a b c "Klezmer Music". Borzykowski.users.ch. 2010-01-27. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  3. ^ "Klezmer Fiddle". Fiddlingaround.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  4. ^ Professor Richard J. Dumbrill, "The Archaeomusicology of the Ancient Near East" (City University of New York, 2005), Preface.
  5. ^ Old Testament/Tanahk|Book of Psalms|Attributed to King David and others|1000-2500[?]b.c.e.|King James Authorized Version|c.1600|Britain
  6. ^ Dumbrill, p.179-386
  7. ^ Liner notes|The Klezmatics|Album=Jews With Horns"Nign"|Jada Jen|June 21, 2010
  8. ^ "Jewish Music in Romania". Dinayekapelye.com. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  9. ^ "Amsterdam Klezmer Band "Immigrant Song"". YouTube. 2009-04-11. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  10. ^ Cohen

Bibliography[edit]

  • Wiltrud Apfeld (Red.): klezmer. Hejmisch und hip. Klartext Verlag, Essen 2003, ISBN 3-89861-379-8 (Ausstellungskatalog mit 1 CD)
  • Alex Jacobowitz: Ein klassischer Klezmer. Reisegeschichten eines jüdischen Musikers. 2. Auflage. Tree of Life, München 2002, ISBN 3-00-003226-6.
  • Rita Ottens, Joel Rubin: Jüdische Musiktraditionen (Musikpraxis in der Schule; 4). Verlag Gustav Bosse, Kassel 2001, ISBN 3-7649-2694-5.
  • Rita Ottens, Joel Rubin: Klezmer-Musik. Bärenreiter, Kassel 2003, ISBN 3-7618-1400-3.
  • Seth Rogovoy: The essential klezmer. A music lover's guide to Jewish roots and soul music. Algonquin Books, Chapel Hill, N.J. 2000, ISBN 1-56512-244-5.
  • Joan Sfar: Klezmer Band 1 Die Eroberung des Ostens. Avant-Verlag, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-939080-17-6.
  • Mark Slobin (Hrsg.): American Klezmer. Ita roots and offshoots. University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif. 2002, ISBN 0-520-22718-2.
  • Georg Winkler: Klezmer. Merkmale, Str*Fiddler on the Move : Exploring the Klezmer World by Mark Slobin

External links[edit]