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The Kabbalah of Music By Rabbi DovBer Pinson (232 Pages)Publisher: Jason Aronson, 1999
What is Jewish Music? What makes a song "sound Jewish?" What is the place of music in Jewish history and philosophy?
The author writes,
"What is known to us as Jewish music is actually a compilation of styles and rhythms gathered over centuries and obtained in various manners and from countless sources. However, musicologists the world over agree that the purity of the Jewish song has always been retained. The quality which makes it uniquely Jewish, regardless of the influence on it, has remained untouched and clearly identifiable.
"What is this quality? What is it that makes a song sound Jewish? It is a note of longing, of a child yearning to unite with his parent, a nation pining for its homeland and lost temple, a soul in this world remembering the holiness above and longing to reunite. Each song resonates with the entirety of the Jewish experience, the devastations and victories, the separations and reunifications and above all the constant bound with the eternal.
"The study of Jewish music is vast and requires volumes to contain it. There are many who have analyzed its unique qualities and have written extensively on it. Their examination of music is essentially a lesson in history, another means of glimpsing a rich and diverse past.
"There is yet another way to examine a song, and that is, to view it as an eternal message, as relevant today as it was hundreds of years ago, at the time of its composition. Each song tells its own story in the heart of the one who sings it. It evokes a unique response in each listener. A tune can touch a soul, in a way no words ever could.
"The study of music as response is what I aim to portray in this work. Music can be used in a myriad of ways in our everyday lives. Especially today with all of the gadgets that can convey music, we are bombarded by sound. Just by taking a long walk, a person changes zones of melodies, beats, and compositions of various types. Our bodies seem to vibrate to uninvited songs and noises that permeate the air around us. But invited or not it is the ambiance in which we live, and which makes it part of the human experience.
"We hear music constantly, yet we often fail to listen. Each tune tells a story. The Jewish song tells a tale of the ongoing saga of survival and hope. We need to only listen closely and we may hear its eternal message."
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