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September 13, 2012 - Image 96

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-09-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

arts & entertainment

From the
Shofar's Wail

The Staff of Beau Jacks
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... to Freddie Mercury's solo.

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116

September 13 201?

an it be the shofar that put the
"rock" in rock 'n' roll? By tracing
the historical evolution of Temple
music, a deep link emerges between your
local High Holy Day services and the musi-
cal acts that light up the stage today.
With its diverse genres, dramatic melo-
dies and timeless character, few songs have
etched themselves into modern musical
consciousness like Queen's "Bohemian
Rhapsody." Imagine, for a moment, that
in place of its classic guitar solo, the song
peaks with the coarse, mournful bellow of
the shofar, the ram's horn instrument that
captures in its echoed cry what words fail
to articulate.
Without the shofar's time-penetrating
influence, it is possible that contemporary
music would lack fundamental elements,
says John Sinclair, who during the 1970s
opened the first 24-track studio in Europe.
It is in that studio that Queen recorded and
mixed "Bohemian Rhapsody"
Now a lecturer in talmudic logic and
Jewish philosophy at the Ohr Somoyach/
Tanenbaum College of Judaic Studies in
Jerusalem, Sinclair (not to be confused
with the Michigan-born poet and political
radical of the same name) says he is "not
a big fan of [contemporary] Jewish music"
because it "sounds about as Jewish as Led

Zeppelin wearing tefillin." Instead, he sug-
gests investigating original Jewish music —
that of the Temple period.
Over 2,000 years ago, a 12-man chorus
and a 12-instrument (including the sho-
far) orchestra of Levites played music and
psalms as an inextricable component of
the Temple's daily worship service. While
some of the orchestra's instruments like
the lyre have fallen out of fashion, the
shofar has continually served an integral
role in Jewish worship since the time of
the Temple. Aside from its place in the
orchestra, the shofar was used to announce
the holidays and Jubilee year, accompany
processions, signify the start of a war and
was blown with trumpets on the High
Holidays.
Historical musicologists, who study the
development of music styles over time,
assume that Temple music was mono-
phonic, containing a single melody without
harmony. Temple music used the seven-
note diatonic scale.
"Everyone knows the diatonic scale,"
says Sinclair — who besides for Queen
recorded Elton John and co-produced a
quadruple platinum Foreigner's album
with two Billboard Top 10 hits. "It was
made famous by that great musicologist
Julie Andrews in her unforgettable contri-
bution to Western culture: 'Do, a deer, a
female deer, etc' The melodic structure of
Temple music always returned to the tonic

Music For The Soul

CD incorporates new arrangements of
liturgical and traditional works.

I is so easy for him ... it's just effortless,
says legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman,
explaining what led him to pursue his
collaboration with Israeli-born and celebrat-
ed Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot.
The melding of Perlman's soulful tone
and virtuosic technique with Cantor
Helfgot's spellbinding tenor come together
on their just-released new album, Eternal
Echoes: Songs and Dances for the Soul (Sony
Masterworks).
While rooted in the cantonal-liturgical
tradition of Jewish music, the 10 tracks on
Eternal Echoes encompass a wide range of
sonic modes and musical moods. Perlman
has said that his idea "was to do 'Jewish corn-
fort music' — everything that I recognize
from my childhood is in this program'
The recording grew out of musical conver-

sations with Helfgot and Perinian's longtime
collaborator Hankus Netsky, who began to
explore the confluences of sound between
the violinist's famed classical technique
(informed by a longtime interest in Jewish
traditional music) with Helfgot's magnificent
voice, which has made the cantor (also the
chief cantor of the Park East Synagogue in
New York City) a star of today's liturgical
music revival.
To craft the arrangements and play the
piano parts, Perlman called upon Netsky,
with whom he had collaborated on past
klezmer recordings. Netsky aimed for "a
beautiful chamber orchestra sound, noth-
ing too ostentatious, to really let the soloists
shine:' For five of the pieces he developed
orchestral arrangements, and for the rest,
other combinations that reflected the tradi-

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