Friday, December 30, 2005

Gig Vignettes

A few vignettes from some recent gigs:

I noticed recently that I have been offered food/fed at every gig I've played for the past few months. Unusual, but appreciated. After one recent gig, I got a call from the client. The affair had been held at a local restaurant, and she'd offered me a meal which I'd declined. She called the next day to apologize for the fact that I hadn't been fed, even though I'd turned down the food when she offered it. She said she'd felt preoccupied with the affair, and thought that perhaps if she'd offered again, I'd have accepted. Nice!

Played a gig for one client we'd played three affairs for in the past. The music requests at those events, as in the pre-job prep conversation for this gig, was Klezmer and Carlebach. At the beginning of the gig, the client comes over and tells us: "play the usual! Some Beatles, Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel." So, we played what they wanted, but it was quite different from what we'd expected to play.

Got a last-minute call from a client who was a little embarrassed to say that he'd been give a relatively low budget for music for this affair by the other side. We've gotten calls before where its been obvious that there were some "family issues" and we try to accomodate when possible. Since we were open that evening, we took the gig. The client came over several times during the affair to compliment the music. At the end of the affair, he came over to thank us, and informed us that one of the other sets of parents (there were several) would pay us. Shortly afterwards, someone came over, thanked us, and handed over a check for the agreed upon amount. We packed up and stepped back inside to chat with a friend for a moment. When we got back out to the parking lot, we noticed our original client standing out in the cold where he had been in the process of calling us on his cell phone. "I know it's not much" he said, handing us some cash, "but I really appreciate your doing this for us. The music was just what we'd wanted."

At a recent Bar Mitzvah, the sign-in book included the following bit of wisdom from one of the Bar Mitzvah boys' peers: "You're a teenager now! Chicks will dig you! Mazal Tov!"

Played a long chagiga for a dormitory yeshivah high school. Three and a half hours of absolute energy. Taking a short break towards the end of the gig, we spoke to the menahel who, looking at the boys who were still bouncing around the room, commented: "You have the easy job. When you're done in half an hour, you get to go home. I have to put them to bed!"

Maoz Tzur - Nusach Nadverna

Here's a scan of the text I was given for the Nadvera version of Maoz Tzur. Of particular interest is the extra verse at the the end. The rhyming of "chatoai u'p'shoai" with "hashlishi" is forced although visually it looks as though it should work. Also, note the alternate ending to the penultimate verse, "Chasof".

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Big Cover Up

Got a fave Jewish LP cover? Hippo and Campus want to know about it for a book project/gallery exhibit. They've posted some covers from LP's by the Barry Sisters, the Rabbi's Sons, and Theodore Bikel (among others) on their blog.

12/29/05 Link Dump

Mirty is contrasting Hebrew and English versions of Maoz Tzur.

Hirhurim comments on "Pop Goes The Hipster Bubble", an article in this week's JW about the recent hipster revival.

George Robinson has assembled his year end J-music roundup.

There are a number of music-related letters to the editor in this week's Jewish Week including one from NY's Funniest Rabbi and one from the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater's Zalmen Mlotek.

LIFE-of-RUBIN points to some free mp3 downloads on vocalist Ohad Moscovitch's website. He also informs about the perfect Chanukah gift: A Jewish Houswives CD!

Shira went to a Shlock Rock concert and says:
f you’re fortunate enough to have an opportunity to attend a Shlock Rock concert, run, do not walk! Take your kid(s), grandkid(s), niece(s), nephew(s), your neighbor’s kid(s), yourself, your spouse or your boyfriend or girlfriend, your best friend, the "morning minyannaires" and the whole gang from shul/synagogue. Take your chevruta/learning partner, your classmates from shiur/Jewish religious studies or Ulpan/Hebrew class. Just go!

Never in my life have I had so much fun on, you should pardon the expression, xmas eve.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hirhurei Chanukah

Hirhurim posts some thoughts on "Mi Yimalel" and Debbie Friedman's "Not By Might, Not By Power".

12/27/05 Link Dump (w/value added mp3 link)

Hadassah Magazine covers Downtown Jewish music. Via the KlezmerShack.

Jewschool posts an mp3 of Israeli band Yeladujazz's splicing of Brubeck's "Take Five" with the traditional Chanukah song, "Sevivon". Sagol 59 raps. Fun! Is this available here?


Here are some disappointed comments by someone who's heard an advance copy of Matisyahu's forthcoming album, "Youth".

House of Joy has thought of an interesting solution to the fact that her observance of Kol Isha prevents her from performing in public. The answer... performing in, er, women-only clubs.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Tomorrow's Jewish World Review Today

JWR's Binyamin Jolkovsky emails:
Could you please post this link?

It's to a three-hour music special that I'm running tomorrow. Most of the songs are in English. Frummie alert: Has kol isha.

It can, if you are interested, be posted immediately.
Here ya go!

Chanukah Link Dump

Heichal HaNegina has a Chanukah Niggunim Roundup.

Here's a page, "Chanukah Songs, Hanukkah and Maoz Tzur", that has info and sheet music.

Here is some Chanukah Sheet music.

Here is some more Music for Chanukah.

The perfect Chanukah gift: a signed Chevra T Shirt.

SerandEz is covering the Lander College Battle of the Bands. Here's Part II.

Hirshel was at the Helfgott concert.

From the mailbag...

Marion Lignana Rosenberg forwards a link to her blog. She's named the Brave Old World CD, "Song of the Lodz Ghetto", CD of the year for Newsday.

An embarrassed musician writes:
Hi, I stumbled upon your site while searching for a way to voice my opinion on the absolute hypocrisy in the Jewish music biz. I was in eichlers (just to buy candles, really) when I heard the theme song for the lord of the rings movie!!! Mr. Shwekey has blatantly stolen the opening to the movie theme song, and then married it to one of his awful songs!! These guys then have the audacity to print on the CD the standard YOU ARE A HUGE FREAKING GANAV IF YOU COPY ANY OF THIS CD. What the HELL???? Do these guys see the hypocrisy?

Friday, December 23, 2005

Your Health w/ Dr. Blog in Dm

Swiss researchers:"Playing digeridoo cures snoring!

Via Roger L. Simon.

Lakewood Chanukah Fundraiser

So, this year the Lakewood Yeshiva sent out a CD fundraiser entitled "Nigunim L'Chanukah - Songs for Chanukah." As you would expect, none of the four music tracks are Chanukah songs. The tracks -- all Shabbos songs-- are the Regesh versions of Rachem Al Tzion, Kah Ribon, Yedid Nefesh, and Good Shabbos. Judging by the cover, it appears that the minhag in Lakewood is to burn three-stringed violins on the sixth night of Chanukah. Perhaps this minhag evolved out of the wedding takanos limiting bands to a maximum of five pieces, which resulted in fewer gigs for frum violinists. We'll have to see what the Ta'amei Haminhagim says about this.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

J-music Link Dump

Over at 4 Sons & Sons, Tam is dissing Chanukah songs:
Ok, I'll ignore the non-existant war on Christmas being waged elsewhere and focus on what's really important: Why I don't like Hanukah and why Pesach is far superior. We'll take this point by point:

The songs: Pesach has Had Gadya, Ehad mi yodea, Avadim Hayinu, Dayenu, the list goes on and on. What does Hanukah have? The Dreidel song. Idiotic drivel! Mi yimalel is a great song, but it's odd to hear religious folks singing such an anti-religious song so joyously. A while ago I heard someone explain that the song takes various verses from Tanakh that praise G-d and changes the words around so it praises the Jewish people instead. Very neat idea in the abstract, but as a religious guy myself I'm uncomfortable with that.
Shalsheles has posted sheet music for songs off of Shalsheles III and Shalsheles Junior.

Over at the Jewish Music Blog, Aryeh critiques the Sameach Music Podcast new "60 second Music Review.
Here are some quite hilarious quotes from this weeks "review" of Pi Shnayim (at 21:40 of the podcast): "Has anyone seen the 'great hit album' Pi Shanyim", "It's such an amazing album, with songs composed by 'the great' Yossi Green", "The vocals are arranged and conducted by 'the one and only' Gideon Levine", "It's a great album full of great music and the vocals top it off with. . . phenomenal voices"....Of course Sameach Music can do whatever they want with their podcast, but I feel that these "reviews" cheapen the albums by not even attempting to describe what makes them unique.
He's updated the post to include a response from Sameach.

Rokhl has started a KlezKamp blog.

Alexander Gelfand pens an article on an attempt to make Sephardic music hip.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Digital Audio on Dead Tree!'s Peter Kirn has authored a comprehensive guide to, natch, creating digital music. He's set up a website about the book, "Real World Digital Audio" here. Shouldn't it be an e-book? The book comes with an accompanying DVD with over two GB of sound content, instruments, and software tools.

Amazon has it here:

Comment This Out!

Some Commie links for ya'll...

Here's a review of the recent Battle of the Bands at YU.

Tani Palefski profiles Rashanim for the YU Commentator.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Peeps Are Out In Force!

Is it just us, or have there been an inordinate amount of "peeps" showing up at recent gigs?

Thursday night, we had the "Yoidi and Ben Bag Bag boys", the "professional singer who insists that the chosson 'wants me to sing'", a caterer with 'tude, the Yomim director, the program director, and the "gimme free stuff kids". Oh, and a grumpy grandfather of the bride who, on his own initiative, tried to send the band home an hour early so that "everyone will finally go home".

Last night, we had a painless gig, which was well-earned after Thursday's character-filled event.

Wonder who we'll meet at today's gig!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dylan's An Eidim!

Gary Rosenblatt profiles Peter Himmelman in the Jewish Week.

Joining the Party

A Simple Jew is Chassidic music blogging here and here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

12/13/05 Mini Link Dump

LIFE-of-RUBIN has a link to a free Amazon Download of Matisyahu's song "King Without A Crown."

Mark at Beyond BT writes "The Day the Music Revived".

Monday, December 12, 2005

Klezmer New Year's Plug

Drummer Aaron Alexander writes:
Here's a little info on a New Year's Eve party we're putting on at Makor. If you could mention in on the blog we'd appreciate it.

Dear Friends, Colleagues, all

I'm writing to invite you to our New Year's Bash at Makor! (Dec. 31st)

Aaron Alexander's Midrash Mish Mosh at 9PM
Aaron, David Licht - drums, Frank London - Trumpet, Merlin Shepherd - clarinet, Greg Wall - saxophone, Alex Kontorovich - clarinet/saxophone, Dan Blacksburg - trombone, Jay Vilnail - guitar, Mark Rubin - bass

Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars at 10PM

a Klezmer Jam Session around 10:45 or 11 (bring your instruments!)

and then The Boys of Balagan Boogaloo w/DJ Shotnez take over at 11:30 into the morning.

There will be an open beer & wine bar from 10 - 12 (free with entry) and free champagne at midnight. Upstairs there will be a showing of the film White Heat, poetry readings (slams?) and a chance to win a trip to Fiji (whoo hoo!)

Advanced discount tickets are available for Klez Kamp or Klez Kanada attendees (thru Aaron or Frank).
Tickets at the door are $75 pp
Advance are $65 pp or $100 per couple.

Advance w/Klez Kamp or Kanada attendee status - $50 pp.

Hope to see you there!!
We can't make it, but that's a great lineup. So, if you're going to attend a New Year's party in the city, skip the Ball and check out some interesting Jewish music instead.

Sibelius Vs. Finale Part II

Well, it took longer than I expected it to, but here’s the second part of my Sibelius series. The first part can be found here. If you haven’t yet read it, please take the time to do so first. This part covers the features we’d promised to cover as well as some miscellaneous odds and ends.

Dynamic Parts
One of the hyped new features in Sibelius 4 is dynamic parts and the feature is terrific. I've done a number of arrangements and I love not having to extract parts. It works exactly as expected; edits to the score are simply automatically done to the individual instrument parts, which can be viewed and printed by selecting them in the parts window. In my experience, the only tweaking the parts then needed is slight adjustment of a few layout issues. These were small and involved inserting a system break or two and adjusting the location of some text.

Flexi time works great. I was able to easily play in songs, and even more complicated melodies with many tied notes reproduced accurately. For me, this is a much more preferable method to scanning when I need to import a lead sheet, or quick chart and it gets the job done quickly, especially since in either case, the chord symbols and lyrics need to be entered manually.

When I tried Sibelius 3, I was able to successfully import Finale files in ETF format. In Sibelius 4 though, I found that certain Finale ETF files would not import and would consistently cause Sibelius to crash. So, I downloaded Recordare’s Dolet demo, which converts the Finale files to MusicXML files and tried that solution out.

I’ve imported several lead sheets and arrangements into Sibelius after converting them to MusicXML files. Sibelius imported them nicely, and the layout only needed minor tweaking to mirror the original Finale layout. Dolet doesn’t translate the title and composer so those do need to be re-entered. It does translate lyrics. I converted a song from a musical I’d worked on and the lyrics ported fine. Slurs transferred nicely, but grace notes needed their position adjusted. All in all, the conversions worked quite well. This means that I can easily redo any of my Finale files in Sibelius, should the need arise.

The video function is a neat concept. I fooled around with this briefly, and the inclusion of a video player and the ability to mark hit points in the score and compose to them seems quite useful. It also apparently works for mp3’s although this use is unsupported.

MIDI files
Sibelius handles MIDI files just fine. I had no problem opening and editing MIDI files.

In general, I like the way Sibelius handles document setup and layout. There are a few elements that I initially found confusing, but that may much to do with the fact that I was used to Finale’s approach. It is taking me a while to unlearn Finale.

This was the only significant area where I found myself preferring Finale to Sibelius. In general, it seems to me that Finale’s default placement for slurs often looks better than Sibelius’. In Sibelius, I found that the default position of some slurs (usually on pairs of notes a third apart) was too far away from the notes. This is true for both the Helsinki and Inkpen fonts. It’s only an aesthetic point, and Sibelius does let you move and adjust slurs, but I wish the default positioning were more to my taste. Also, I noted a bug that occurs when moving slurs using the arrow keys. (I noted this in part 1). I know that Sibelius is aware of this issue and I understand that it is being addressed in their forthcoming upgrade.

I like Sibelius’ filter feature a lot. It makes it so easy to select all of a given item and modify them at the same time in a way that I was not as easily able to do in Finale. I also like that edits are in real time, so I can see the results, and tweak them, if need be, without having to quit the properties box.

I get better results when scanning standard fonts as opposed to jazz/handwritten fonts, but it is often faster/easier to enter the notes again rather than scanning them. In particular, Photoscore seems to have difficulty with pickup measures. I tried scanning two simple lead sheets from the Dveykus songbook, and I could have entered the songs faster with Flexi-time or step entry. These were simple lead sheets notated in Finale’s default font; it doesn’t get much easier than this. Nevertheless a fair number of corrections were needed. Also, chord symbols and lyrics are not imported. I’d think that the technology could be improved. Finale’s scan feature doesn’t work any better, though, in my experience. Music OCR technology hasn’t fully arrived IMO.

The full PhotoScore Professional (not included with Sibelius) does have many additional features (i.e. importing PDF files), and presumably works much better, but I didn’t buy the program so I can’t provide any impressions.

Klezmer Key Signatures
Sibelius does not currently recognize “ethnic” key signatures, although work-arounds are apparently possible. Since I prefer to notate klezmer melodies in traditional keys with accidentals, this is not a problem for me, but if you prefer to notate klez using “ethnic” scales with sharps and flats in the key signature, this is something to keep in mind.

Repeat signs
Sibelius, unlike Finale, recognizes repeat signs and plays them back in the score. In Finale, I needed to go through a whole workaround to get repeats to play back. The only minor issue I have is that for some reason, when I create a repeat sign at the beginning of a score, Sibelius places it before the time signature. The position can be adjusted afterwards easily. I’m guessing that this is a bug too.

No music notation software can be perfect. Scores will always require some tweaking. The two big guns for software notation at this point are Finale and Sibelius, and the end product of both programs will satisfy the typical needs of most composers, arrangers, and bandleaders. However, upon comparing the two, Sibelius scores higher in my book. (Pun intended!) The user interface is much more intuitive and Sibelius’ printed output looks great! I’ve been able to do everything I’ve attempted in Sibelius and in most cases find it to be much easier to use when compared to Finale. In addition, my personal contact with various Sibelius representatives both through Sibelius’ help center chat page and via personal email have demonstrated that they take customer service quite seriously. So, I’ve switched to Sibelius.If you don't have a music notation program and you're trying to decide which to get, I'd reccomend Sibelius. Longtime Finale users may find the hassle of learning a new program more trouble than the potential gain, but even for these, it might be worth considering making the switch in order to avoid the “endless useless upgrade model” Finale has been on. Sibelius has a good crossgrade offer. Just skip one Finale upgrade and you'll be about even!

Amazon currently has it at a good price here:

If Finale wants me back, they’ll have to come get me. And, it’ll take more than their silly incentives; my “free” Finale 2004 T-shirt is still in its original shrink-wrap. I’m done paying for upgrades that don’t provide promised features, less than stellar customer service, and an outdated GUI.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Fried/Ohad Concert Blogged

SerandEz reviews last night's Fried/Ohad/Kinderlach concert here, here, and here.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Matisyahu Concert Review

Harry reviews last night's Matisyahu show.

12/9/05 Link Dump

The Onion takes on the RIAA.

The Well-Tempered Blog comments on the controversy surrounding the BBC's planned Bach fest including free mp3 downloads.

Cosmic X is conflicted about going to hear Matisyahu perform.

Heichal HaNegina has posted on the "Niggun of the Week."

Ben Jacobson reviews two reggae releases.

Baraita wants to know what you do with a cantor!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

From the mailbag... special feminist edition!

I received the following email this morning from a female Jewish musician:
After reading your blog all about Jewish musicians, you failed to remember that women exist in the world. I am a Jewish Composer Pianist whose Torah based Healing Music CD's sell both in Israel and abroad, and over the internet as well. After what it felt like reading what you wrote, I feel that you owe us women an article~
Wow! Way to try and promote yourself! Not gonna work, though! For the record, we are more than happy to promote female Jewish musicians.

I thought about posting a series of links to some of my many previous posts on female performers, but I'm not going to waste the time. A simple scroll through recent posts, currently viewable on the Blog in Dm homepage, is enough to debunk this one.

12/6/05 Link Dump

Over at Moving On, Glen Holman posts a song lyric written by his daughter Nechama Z"L when she was eight. Once you're there, take some time to read Glenn's other posts too.

Chaim writes a post titled "My Problem with Jewish Childrens CD's." I'd recommend checking out David Nulman's album "Captain Dovid and the Rebbes of Rhythm. Once you get past the title and the "in outer space" theme, the music and lyrics are quite good. Standout track is "Where Is Hashem?" with sweet guest vocals by Dov Levine. The lyrics come across as heartfelt and sincere rather than preachy. I've added this one to my book for appropriate events.

Yitz is feeling sheepish over at Heichal HaNegina. Hat tip: A Simple Jew.

Menachem Butler writes about 'Malki's Song."

Zackary Sholem Berger posts on Lipa Schmeltzer.

Here's DAATH, a dark metal band inspired by Kabbala.
Daath’s music is an exploration of the negative sides of the human psyche. Using the Tree of Life as a roadmap, their albums will be systematically exploring the adverse side of the tree until they have described all ten of its points, or sepherot.
Via Metal Jew.

The Town Crier thinks that a NY Post article on the awarding of a city contract to a rabbi who embezzled money from HASC is an attempt to discredit the organization soon before its annual concert. I just don't see it.

Personally, I thought the timing of the Jewish Week's article last year was wrong, because they published the story (which was a year old) as the aforementioned rabbi was sitting shiva and shortly before the big annual concert. There was no burning reason to publish immediately instead of holding the story for a week or two. This year's concert is at the end of January, though. I find it hard to believe that there is any subtext here. It's simply a classic "can you believe this one" story about the city handing out mega-dollars to a thief. It's not anti-Semitism and it's not anti-HASC.

At any rate, TTC is following this story.


Sameach Music has pulled Ushpizin from their website:
We regret that the distributor in Israel which was legally licensed to sell this film, made an error in selling this DVD to outlets in the U.S., we have pulled this product off our site.
Please check back in the coming months, after this film has ended it's theater run, it will be officially released here in the U.S. If you see this DVD being sold elsewhere in the U.S. please report it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

From the mailbag...

Menachem writes:
I have finally discovered what scarred me for life as a kid back in the 80s. It wasn't catching a late night screening of Nightmare On Elm Street or anything that remotely obvious - it was listening the sweet music of our beloved Country Yossi. Last year, Country Yossi's albums were released on CD, and what with all the bashing of his magazine on various Jewish music blog sites, I decided take a trip down memory lane and purchase these albums that I had so loved as a kid. One song in particular definitely traumatized me to this day: "These I Remember" from the album of the same name "These I Remember". The song goes through, in graphic detail, the horrific slayings of famous rabonim throughout history (Rabon Gamliel, Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Yochanan Ben Taradion). Lyrics such as "Rabbi Shimon - they raked his body with combs of iron" and Rabbi Yochanan Ben Taradyon who - whilst being burned alive - "was wrapped in the torah from which he had been teaching and his chest was drenched in water to prolong the agony". May I remind you that we're talking about Country Yossi here, music aimed at 7 year old kids!

On a related note, was this really necessary?: (from the song "Cholent") "...If I had my way I'd ship it all the way, and drop it on the Arabs, they'd be gone in a day".

PS. I am a big fan regardless :-)
E is upset about this composition credit for "The Lion Sleeps Tonight":
CHECK THIS - HASC - A Time For Music 18 (XVIII) - A Chai Celebration - SAMEACH MUSIC ABI MLEIBT - COMPOSED BY LIPA SHMELTZER! (and we all know that composed don't mean the lyrics)
Adapted would be a better description, I'd think.

Update:Sruly at Sameach emails
Sorry - it has been revised. Thanks for pointing it out. No harm was meant, I'm the one responsible for that, I thought it would have been understood that Lipa didn't compose “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, he only composed the changed song lyrics. I should have been more clear, It has been updated appropriately. If you see anything else, or have any other suggestions, feel free to e-mail me.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Dinnerstein and Goldberg

Meant to post this last week...

Went to hear pianist Simone Dinnerstein perform Bach's Goldberg Variations at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall. It was a superb performance. Dinnerstein's touch and musicality were breathtaking. The New York Times gave the performance a great write-up. Here's the Philadelphia Inquirer's take which includes a link to a short audio clip of Dinnerstein performing the Aria the variations are all based on.

12/4/05 Link Dump

Here's The Shaigetz on Matisyahu.

Here's Lazer Beams with a profile of former heavy-metal bassist Robbie Ludwick.

Wendy Shalit has penned an Ushpizin review for OpinionJournal.

A Simple Jew has a guest post of thoughts on a recent Chazzonos experience.

The Rabbi Saw Red!

The following interaction took place at a recent gig we played, where the rabbi was trying to move the proceedings along while the guests were still chatting and indulging at the buffet.

Rabbi: We are now going to bentch!
Guests: Yap, yap yap!
Rabbi: Bentching is starting RIGHT NOW!
Guests: Yap, yap yap!
Rabbi: No one is being forced to bentch! But we do ask that you remain quiet!
Guests: Yap, yap yap!
Guests: Yap, yap yap!
Guests: Yap, yap yap!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Only Shmorgs!

Tired of having to stay for the whole shebang when you just want to go for the shmorg?

Tired of hearing “im yirza Hashem by you” when all you want is more Duck L’Orange?

Tired of missing the carving stations because 37 shadchonim are hanging onto your tux?

Tired of spending $1,000 for a dress in "her favorite color" and never wearing it again?

Tired of missing the waiter with the little hot dogs because you had to sign the ketubah?

Tired of being invited to JUST THE CHUPAH???

Be tired no more, you are invited to the YL’s Just Shmorg!

Everything you always wanted from a wedding without the wedding!

No shadchonim, no im yirzha Hashem’s, no ketubah, no chatan’s tish, no chupah…

Black Tie Preferred

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

11/30/05 Link Dump

Heichal HaNegina has a J-music video clip roundup.

Bim, Bam,Bim Bim Bim Bomb... here's Hip Hop Shabbat.

Israellycool posts a report on Elizabeth Brooks' Bat Mitzvah.
For his daughter's coming-of-age celebration last weekend, multimillionaire Long Island defense contractor David H. Brooks booked two floors of the Rainbow Room, hauled in concert-ready equipment, built a stage, installed special carpeting, outfitted the space with Jumbotrons and arranged command performances by everyone from 50 Cent to Tom Petty to Aerosmith.

The party cost an estimated $10 million, including the price of corporate jets to ferry the performers to and from. Also on the bill were The Eagles' Don Henley and Joe Walsh performing with Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks; DJ AM (Nicole Richie's fiance); rap diva Ciara and, sadly perhaps (except that he received an estimated $250,000 for the job), Kenny G blowing on his soprano sax as more than 300 guests strolled and chatted into their pre-dinner cocktails.
Acharit HaYamim comments:
What would Rabbi Cohen think, one wonders, about a bat mitzva party that manages to destroy the street cred of Tom Petty, Aerosmith, and most amazingly, 50 Cent? I mean, Kenny G., Stevie Nicks, even Don Henley - you expect these people to be working the tweener mitzva circuit at this point in their careers (for Mr. G. let's make that "career".) But Fitty? Thank God that, in addition to the reported half a million dollars he got for the gig, he didn't allow his shame to be captured on film.
Sounds like an event, but was it safe??? Did they have a Bar-Mitzvah Bouncer???

Here's a link to The Jewish Ethicist who addresses the question: "Can I Publish A Brutally Honest Album Review?"

They're a salsa band. They play klezmer music. They're Meshuggenismo! There are some working audio clips on the site.

Here's an interview with the avalanches. Ella Adler's Jewish Aerobics has really gotten around!
Rob: this is a really interesting record. Its an aerobics record called jewish aerobics. I got this in new york the last time I was there. The lady does the voices something like 1,2,3,kick! Bu the music is traditional jewish music. The music is by neshoma orchestra. We actually got Jennifer lopez to dance to this record on a tv show in Sweden! Its also got aerobics instructions and some of it is in Hebrew.
J-Lo and the Neshoma Orchestra... now why didn't we think of that!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rappin' Torah

Jewschool links to an article with details on Matisyahu's cameo on P.O.D.'s new album.

Some Klezmer Links...

Been meaning to get to some of these for a long time...

David Valdez emails:
Thanks for the link! I've actually paid my dues with Klezmer bands over the years and I HAVE played like Archie Schepp at quite a few bar and bat mitzvahs. Recently I recorded with the 'Extreme Klezmer' band Klezmocracy.
You can download a track, "Tantst Yidelekh", here.

Khupe, who we "met" when Christian emailed to say hello, is a VERY worthwhile Klezmer duo consisting of accordionist Sanne Möricke and clarinetist Christian Dawid. The musicianship is superb! The duo evidences a strong musical chemistry which comes across on their live concert recordings. Khupe released their third album, "eyns, tsvey, dray" recently. Unfortunately, there are no audio clips of that abum on their site, but they do have clips of their other two recordings on their site and at CD Baby. These are definitely on my want to buy list!

Somebody should bring Khupe and The World Quintet (who also have a new release too) to the States for a concert tour. Concert promoters, take note!

Also wanted to point out klezmer flautist Adrianne Greenbaum's album "FleytMuzik: The Klezmer Flute". I bought this one a while back as a download from eMusic, so I don't have the liner notes in front of me. Simply put, this is a great album. Greenbaum plays exquisite klezmer on wooden flutes. The arrangements for bass, tsimbl, violin and flute are beautiful. I'd love to add "Gut Morgen" to the band's book. Anyone know if there's a published transcript of that tune?

Monday, November 28, 2005

11/28 Link Dump

Miriam went to see Matisyahu and has some thoughts on his appeal. Karl was at the show too!

LIFE-of-RUBIN has declared himself "HASC Central."

Ouch! Athiest activist Michael Newdow's new one man musical play has been reviewed.

Here's Musical Perceptions with "How To Sing The Blues."

A Simple Jew emails a link to this movie on Hasidic music from the Spielberg Jewish Film Archive.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Great Composers...

We had to learn a number of tunes for our gigs this weekend. Short music critique: Yankel Talmud, the late "court composer" of the Gerrer Chassidim composed some sweet tunes. So did Bob Marley!

Friday, November 25, 2005

11/25/05 Link Dump

Allison Kaplan Sommer is glad Michael Jackson is anti-Semitic.

Knifedge Kvetch is looking forward to an upcoming Matisyahu concert.

Judeopundit pens "Towards a Hipper Shlock-Rock: Don't Fear the Cholent."

BMGforever comments on the end of the Takanos.

LIFE-of-RUBIN: has posted a HASC Update.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

KFAR Katavnu

KFARS Adam Davis reviews Blue Fringe's latest for World Jewish Digest and also writes about The Rabbinical School Dropouts and Balkan Beat Box for Atlanta Jewish Life Magazine.

Hakol Kol Yaakova

There's an article on female singers and kol isha in the recent YU Commentator.

Hating Jews Easy As 1,2,3!

The Daily News reports:
Michael Jackson picked a familiar target to blame for his mounting money problems - the Jews.
In phone messages obtained by ABC News, the apparently prejudiced pop star likens them to "leeches" and claims they conspired to leave him "penniless."

"They suck...they're like leeches...I'm so tired of it," Jackson tells former adviser Dieter Wiesner in one of them. "The Jews do it on purpose."

The ugly message, which was made two years ago and aired yesterday on "Good Morning America," was one of several provided by Wiesner's lawyer, Howard King.

Wiesner and another former Jacko adviser, Marc Schaffel, were fired by the singer and are suing him to recoup the millions they say he owes them.

Jackson had to apologize to Jewish groups a decade ago after he included lyrics like "Jew me/Sue me/Everybody do me/Kick me/Kike me" on the song "They Don't Care About Us."

Blue Fringe and Eden Reviews...

... in today's Jerusalem Post.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Jewschool has a post about rapper "Remedy" which includes a link to an mp3 of his hit "Never Again."

Over at Casa Valdez Jazz, David Valdez is giving outside improv advice that will help you be able to "play like Archie Shepp even at a Bar Mitzvah or your hotel lobby gig!" He's had a number of interesting improv-related posts. This Gary Campbell book, which David recommends here seems interesting.

Chaim sends a link to a post at Lost Remote.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Ba Da Bum

Caught a few minutes of the Jewish radio show on the way home from shul this AM. Was tickled to hear the DJ misread the liner notes and announce one track as BaRock Orchestra's "Biheimishe Medley."

Sony's Big Blunder

Meant to get to this earlier. Here are some links from USA Today, the Financial Times, and CNET about Sony's copy-protected CD problems. It's hard to believe that they could have been so foolish!

UPDATE: Now Texas is suing.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ushpizin Soundtrack Answer

Richie emails us the answer to Rhodda's question..
Both songs in the film "Ushpizin" -- "Atah Kadosh" and "Yesh Rak HaKadosh Baruch Hu" -- are by Adi Ran. They can be heard in the archives on JM in the AM as follows:

"Yesh Rak" - rtsp://

"Atah Kadosh" - rtsp://

And no, I'm not a pedantic yekkish nut who keeps lists of everything. I just started keeping detailed playlists of JM in the AM to try to better understand the focus of show (i.e. when Nachum plays the Good Stuff).

Alright, maybe I *am* a pedantic yekkish nut.
Thanks to Yosef for emailing the Adi Ran info as well.

We reviewed Adi Ran's releases here.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Piamenta Interview

Haaretz has an in-depth interview with guitarist Yossi Piamenta, who has recently moved back to Israel.

Hat tip, Yeshiva Orthodoxy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

From The Mailbag... Extended Edition

Lots of email of late.

Several readers emailed in response to All or Nothing At All".

Avremi G. writes:
It’s very simple. A one man band sounds full (if not musical) alone. A band needs at least 5 musicians to achieve same. Therefore a one man band is way more preferable to a 3 or 4 piece band IMO. My most popular product is my 3 piece band consisting of keyboard (one man band style), drums and sax (The drummer has headphones to sync up to my drum machine – works great)
Shmuel B. writes:
In my opinion a 4 piece band is a great camp concert band or a great Purim/simchas Beis Hashoeva band but for a wedding you can only pass if one of the players sing also. I personally wouldn't hire for a wedding less than six pieces(trombone), but if the musicians are really good and not lazy than I guess a 4 piece can do it. Also to musicians a one man band will NEVER be as good as a band, but believe it or not the 90% of people dont know to care.
I asked a friend who played by a certain wedding last week and he did not know if it was a band or a one man band!! I know not everybody will agree with me but you need a bigger band than four.
Psachya Septimus writes:
About the "all or nothing at all" thing - I think I know where it came from. When the "takanas" first came out, they wanted to restrict the bands to four players plus a singer. Many in the business started spreading the word that four pieces just wouldn't cut it for a regular, full-size wedding. (Actually, think about if all the takana jobs now were four pieces instead of five - a scary thought.) Some of us might have said, "Hey - if you're getting four pieces, you might as well chintz all the way and get a one-man-band!" (I myself, ahem, may have said something like that a few times.) In a way, we succeeded - the takana was changed to five men and a singer. But in a way, I guess we also shot ourselves in the foot. Oh, well...
All three of these writers seem to grant the premise that a full sound is possible with less than five musicians. In Avremi G.'s scenario, the keyboard player is playing a one man band style keyboard, but with an additional two musicians. Shmuel grants that a four-piece could be good if one of the members sing. Psachya says that this is/was hype spread by some in the industry in response to the takanos.

My question was about the premise that it is an all or nothing proposition. I can envision many possible scenarios where four musicians could provide a full sound. One option would be an approach like Avremi's. Another would be to have a rhythm section band -- Drums, Bass, Guitar, and Keys. If the alternative is a one-man-band, than you don't lose having the horns escort the Choson to the badekin, because that option doesn't exist in either case. If some of the members sang and the guitarist and keyboardist were strong soloists, the band could have a very full sound -- especially if they wrote arrangements and rehearsed.

I also think that a smaller group can sound good playing the current simcha repertoire. The reason some groups don't sound so full, at least those I've seen at simchos, is because they sound like eight-piece bands missing four or five pieces. In those cases, rather than adapting to the needs of a combo, trio, or quartet, the musicians play the job the same way they would if there were many more players in the band.

In short, to me, the premise that a wedding band for a typical Orthodox wedding has to be five pieces, or else the ONLY option is a one-man-band is based on either misinformation or disinformation.

I'd like to be clear here. There is definitely a difference based on the size of the band, and many affairs do call for larger bands. For instance, if there is secular music at the event, a bassist is usually needed for certain styles to "work" (i.e. R&B basslines). If classical music is desired, additional instruments like violin, cello, or harp may be needed. I'm not advocating that everybody use three or four-piece bands; but I do just challenge the assumption that they can't carry a typical takana-compliant affair. Remember, the takanos also limit the number of guests.

A hypothetical question: If the takanos had limited band size to four musicians, do you really think that there would be no bands hired as everyone made the obvious choice of "fuller" one-man-bands?

Arlene Assness wrote about Country (Y.) Music:
Whoever knocked the album Visions after only hearing one cut ( the only cover) should not be permitted to post his/her ignorant & biased opinion.

I was lucky enough to get a copy as a present...........WOW!

What a refreshing and innovative approach to the genre. Great lyrics both serious and humorous that generally stay out of the trite and boring stuff normally dished out.........

Super arrangements using more modern elements with the more trad. stuff it almost sounds goyish ( in the positive sense!)
Check out Rainbow Nation & Absolutely Live.............

Please get someone who does not have a hearing impediment (or a major chip on the shoulder) to review one of the sweetest cds of the year
My response:

You missed the point. There was no criticism of Visions or Nachman Seltzer (either direct or implicit) in that post.

The criticism was of the trend in the NY Jewish Music industry to disingenuously represent albums as “traditional” when they are not. This has nothing to do with Nachman, but with marketing decisions made by the distributor here in NY. Personally, I happen to think such marketing is foolish.

To illustrate my point, contrast the following two “quotes” about the album. (The first is from the ad I critiqued and the second is from your email.)

1) With the release of his first two musical productions, he is well on his way to fulfilling his dream of seeing Jewish music return to its pure and classic roots.

2) A refreshing and innovative approach to the genre. Great lyrics both serious and humorous that generally stay out of the trite and boring stuff normally dished out......... Super arrangements using more modern elements with the more trad. stuff it almost sounds goyish ( in the positive sense! ) Check out Rainbow Nation & Absolutely Live.............

What impression does each give about the album?
Which do you think is more accurate?
Which gives more information about the album?
If a buyer bought the album because they were looking for music like that described in the quote, do you think that those who had bought it on the basis of the first description would be satisfied? (Not musically, but as far as getting what they’d expected.)
Do you think it’s ethical to misrepresent what an album is in order to achieve sales?

Personally, I’d think that your description, which specifically mentions what you find unique about the album, is more likely to draw attention (and increase sales) as opposed generic and untrue advertising that represents the album as the return of Jewish music to its “pure and classical roots.” As you acknowledge in your email, that description is inaccurate.

If you read my blog, you’d know that I support creative Jewish music, and have no problem with secular influences per se. I see nothing wrong with someone covering a classic rock song (as long as its acknowledged). My point is simple; I’d like to see more honesty in JM marketing.

Rhondda writes:
Just saw this fabulous film [Ushpizin]. Missed, in the credits, who was the artist for the song based on Kol haolam kulo of rebbe nachman that was played at the end. Have you seen this film? Know the chart/artist??

Re a comment on your website about the non-Chabad boy reciting the ma'amer at his bar mitzvah: we have seen this out here in asian golut as well, and I second your opinion. No point in adding something disconnected and perilously close to meaningless (to the kid, anyway) at a time where there's enough danger of the kid missing the whole point. But then, we've seen a time when our modern orthodox day school's head of jewish studies had boys who didn't live in kosher homes wearing tzitzit...
I haven't seen the film yet. If anyone can ID the artist for her, we'll pass the info on.

As far as boys from not kosher homes being taught to wear tzitzit.... I would distinguish between mitzvot (commandments) on the one hand and minhagim (customs) on the other. Judaism is not an all or nothing proposition. Each mitzvah can be taken on its own. And, although tzitzit might not seem to you to be high on the priority list with regard to Jewish education in situations where the parents don't even keep a kosher home, Judaism believes that there is value in every mitzvah act. As a result, I think it's not an apt comparision to the Rebbe's Ma'amar example I used. In teaching kids from non-observant homes about Judaism, there will always be those things that -- taken on their own -- might seem less important, or not worthy of focus, but there is no way to teach Judaism without teaching those too. Also, to address your specific example, tzitzit is something the child can do on their own, while keeping a kosher home requires a commitment from both parents too.

Some JM Links

Late, but definitely in the game now, Sameach Music has launched their online store at Following up on their Podcast, Sameach appears to be adopting a net-savvy marketing approach. It's a smart approach, and reduces their reliance on Judaica retailers in the NY area, who are notorious for late payments (when they pay at all), as needed distribution outlets. They're also offering a free CD including tracks by many of their artists with purchases of $25 or more.

PT posts video of the MSB backing up Shlock Rock on Yo, Yo, Yarmulka.

FTR vs. JM in the AM

Here's Hirhurim's comparision.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hash-idic Brownies

Here's Presence:
Whoah, where am I...I started my car, radio set to 105.7 from the ride home, and there's someone on the radio singing about Moshiach and Hashem, with a Jamaican patois for added flare. Did Shweky eat the wrong brownies on his Pesach vacation in The Bahamas? Nope, it's Matisyahu!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

On The Links

Pair of JM links for y'all:

Here's The Lenny Solomon story - part 2.

The Jerusalem Post reviews Eitan Katz's newest, "Lma'ancha" and Yosef Karduner's "Bakesh Avdecha."

From The Mailbag...

Karen writes:
I just read your June 22 blog entry in which you compare Finale and Sibelius. I am looking to purchase one of these programs. Do you have any further opinions after using Sibelius for a few months?
I posted some thoughts earlier today and am hoping to get to part two and my conclusions soon.

Yakov Vershubsky writes:
I have finally completed the Final Structure of Lipa's website If anyone has anything to contribute, Please Email me.

I'm looking for:
Newspaper Clippings
WebNews Items
Blog Feeds
Studio Session Recordings
and anything else you think might help.

Personally, we'd suggest creating and uploading content before promoting a website. Perhaps this will motivate us to pen a Lipa post sometime soon.

Avremi G. comments on "The Rebbe's Ma'amar":
You missed the point as to why this maamar is recited. It’s not akin to a pilpul whose (noble) intention is to inspire and intellectually stimulate the listener with words of chidushei Torah – This maamer has been recited for about 100 years by Lubavitcher Barmitvah boys, so in a way it’s old news. Rather it’s an accomplishment on the part of the boy, having studied and internalized the Chassidic and kabalistic points of the Mitzvah of Tfilin. The saying of a Maamer is not a speech, rather a spiritual journey of G-dly connection and adherence. It’s a vehicle by which the boy connects to his Rebbe – as a young chosid. The Rebbe would hold on to a kerchief when saying a maamer. Chassidim speculate that he did this so as so as not to undergo “kalois hanefesh” whilst experiencing such intense spirituality. And trust me; almost no-one understood a maamer that the Rebbe said at first listen. And I’m certain he knew it. But as Chassidim we know that much ‘heavenly upheaval’ happens with the reciting of a maamer by a Rebbe – this in addition to the ‘chidushei chassidus’ that were introduced.
My response:
I think you missed my point. Perhaps my post wasn't clear. This was not a Lubavitch Bar Mitzvah, where as part of being raised in the Chabad derech, and while being taught the Chasidic/Kabbalistic conception of tefilin, the boy learned the Rebbe's ma'amar. In that case, I've got no problem with the Bar Mitzvah saying the ma'amar. It's significant for many reasons as you noted, and at worst, even if the child comprehends nothing, it's a harmless minhag.

This boy was not Chabad or from a Chabad family though. With the exception of this rebbe and a handful of kids, there were no Lubavitchers there. I don't see the significance of teaching a boy to race through a speech he clearly doesn't understand in a language none of his listeners understand; one that is not significant for him beacuase of minhag.

I've posted in the past about Chabad rabbis "getting it" in terms of knowing their audience as far as simcha speeches. In this case, IMO, this rebbe missed the boat and missed an opportunity. In a room full of not yet religious Jews, a simple meaningful D'var Torah would have accomplished so much more.

11/10/05 Link Dump

Lazer Beams has posted the first part of an interview w/Lenny Solomon that includes a link to Lenny's new rap track, "Redemption Time."

Esther Kustanowitz writes "Son of OyBaby" in the Jewish Week

My Yichud Room informs about a new Jewish record label.

Jewish Blogmeister reports on an interesting album promotion: Free Cholent!

Ach Du Lieber Boycott

BBC News reports:
Folk musicians in Bavaria are threatening to boycott the opening of next year's football World Cup - unless they are given a more prominent role.

Organisers have allocated 45 seconds for a performance of traditional Bavarian thigh-slapping and brass music, which they say is not enough.

The opening ceremony of the World Cup in June next year takes place in the Bavarian capital, Munich.

The folk musicians' performance is a classic symbol of Bavaria.

Men in tight leather shorts, slapping their thighs, leap around to the sound of brass music and Alpine horns.
In related news, klezmer musicians are rumored to be boycotting tonight's Yisroel Lamm tribute at Avery Fisher Hall over the lack of tsimbl solos at tonight's event. [/sarcasm]

Via Steven Den Beste

Sibelius Vs. Finale Part I

So I’ve finally made some time to note my impressions of Sibelius 4 and here are my thoughts.

For background about why I decided to try Sibelius after using Finale for years, check out my previous posts here and here. I’ll be contrasting Sibelius 4 with Finale 2004, my most recent version.

Sibelius 4 was announced just after I cross-graded to Sibelius 3, so after quickly notating a few lead sheets for an upcoming gig, I decided to set the program aside and wait until version 4 arrived. In other words, I am approaching Sibelius 4 as a new user, rather than as one upgrading from Sibelius 3.

A brief digression, I have to note that Sibelius’ upgrade policy seems unfair to me. I see no reason for Sibelius’ policy of differentiating registration cutoff dates by country when honoring free upgrades. In particular, giving only a few days grace period in the States from when Sibelius 4 was announced seems unfair. I did a quick net search, and most of the big name companies (i.e. Adobe) have more liberal upgrade policies and grant free upgrades to users who have purchased a program 30 to 60 days prior to the announcement of a new version.

In my case, I registered Sibelius 3 before the short U.S. grace period, but within the U.K/Australia period. It felt quite frustrating to read that I wasn’t going to get the free upgrade, when I hadn’t yet paid the credit card bill for the program. I contacted Sibelius about this and was referred to someone in the company who was kind enough to send me the free upgrade, but I shouldn’t have had to do that. In my opinion, it is reasonable for a software buyer to expect a free upgrade if a new version of the product is announced within 30 days of purchase.

I should emphasize that Sibelius was quite courteous about this as well as a registration issue I’d contacted them about with version 3. The people I’ve spoken to there have been very helpful once they’re made aware of an issue and I’d like to acknowledge that.

Now that that’s out of the way, lets take a look at the program. Instead of trying to give a comprehensive overview/full review of the program, I’m simply going to describe how I used it and what my impressions are. Additional impressions will be coming soon in part II.

Here’s are some general observations first. Overall, Sibelius is an impressive program, and I especially prefer its GUI to Finale’s interface. That being said, the two programs approach things very differently; it will take some time for a Finale user to really “get” Sibelius’ approach. Personally, I find that Sibelius' approach suits my work style better, but longtime Finale users may find the learning curve to be steeper than those whose first music notation experience is Sibelius.

Also, no music notation software is perfect. Both Finale and Sibelius require the user to tweak various aspects of their scores for optimal results.

Now lets take a look at how I’ve been using the program.

Step Entering Lead Sheets
I started off by entering a klezmer clarinet piece that included lots of articulations and diverse note values onto a lead sheet template with the Inkpen font. I found it quite easy to enter the melody using the computer keypad. Sibelius’ interface feels much more intuitive to me compared to Finale's. I love the navigator, and I find that it takes less keystrokes/mouse clicks to enter data relative to Finale. I did find that the slurs were overlapping the accidentals though. I was able to adjust the individual slurs to avoid the accidentals, but a sharp-eyed reader might notice that they are not uniform. The differences are minor and won’t make a difference on the bandstand, but I thought I should mention it. I do wish that the program was able to recognize and correct the conflict on its own.

I also discovered an apparent bug where slurs on the first system don’t respond properly to the up arrow key and move down instead of up. In general, there seems to be a bug that causes the arrow keys to sometimes function inconsistently when adjusting slurs and lines.

I also entered a klezmer piece with a number of trills and an ossia. The trills on the G on top of the staff clashed with the notehead; all the others were fine. It’s easy enough to move them up, but, again, I wish this would happen by default.

When I locked five measures in a system, the last two notes were condensed onto the barline and wouldn’t shift using the standard moving command (alt+shift and the arrow keys). I was able to move them using the properties window and manually entering spacing positions (which show the adjustments in real-time), but I’d also like to be able to drag the individual notes right or left as can be done in Finale. Sibelius doesn’t allow you to move notes relative to each other by dragging.

Inserting Chord Symbols
To test this, I entered a jazz lead sheet with complex chord symbols. Entering jazz chords in Sibelius is a breeze compared to Finale. You can simply type in the chord suffix you want, unlike Finale which requires you to add it to the chord library first. It’s easy to create chords with “stackable” alterations using the drop-down word menus. I prefer Sibelius' method for selecting all chord symbols means that they can be globally adjusted in less steps than it takes in Finale.

New Helsinki Font
To sus out the new Helsinki font, I entered a short classical piano piece, which included dynamics, slurs, hairpins, and fingering. I like this font a lot. It’s clear, easy to read, and looks great. I think it’s a sharper looking font than Finale’s default fonts.

Inserting Graphics
I sometimes like to insert a little logo graphic on my sheet music. Sibelius scales graphics down proportionately when their size is adjusted. Finale’s default setting doesn’t keep the proportions constant when adjusting imported graphics, so after shrinking the graphic by selecting and dragging it, I often have to adjust the proportions. I prefer Sibelius’ approach.

My personal preference for most of my charts so far is the Inkpen font, but as I noted, the new Helsinki font looks sharp too. I think that Inkpen and Helsinki are sharper fonts than Finale’s Jazz and Maestro.

First and Second endings:
One annoying thing I’ve noticed in both Finale and Sibelius is that the default lines for first and second endings are not set high enough to accommodate the default settings for chord symbols. This is easy enough to change, but I’d think these should be the default settings in both programs for lead sheet templates.

I do find Sibelius’ system for entering first and second endings to be much more sensible than Finale’s, but I did find a bug where using the right arrow key to adjust the second ending pushes the end of the line to the left instead of the right. You can work around this by grabbing the ending with the mouse and adjusting it that way.

Kontakt Player
I like the sound of Kontakt Player, but wish it was easier to change instruments.

Copying to Word
Sibelius allows you to simply copy music to Microsoft Word. You simply select go to the edit menu > select> graphic, and adjust the size of your selection by clicking and dragging. You can then copy and paste as usual – CTRL C and CTRL V. I copied a lead sheet and it worked perfectly. This is a great feature that allows me to email a lead sheet to someone who doesn’t have Sibelius or the Scorch reader.

Sibelius Help Center Chat Page
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Sibelius is extremely responsive to user questions. I’ve posed several questions on Sibelius’ chat page, and all of them were answered promptly and correctly.

Importing Finale files
I tried to import some Finale files and found that Sibelius crashes upon import of some Finale ETF files. Sibelius recommends importing Finale Music XML files instead of ETF files, but since Finale left this option out of the Mac version, I'm going to have to explore other options like Recordare's Dolet.

Part II is coming soon:
I hope to report on my experience with Sibelius' "Dynamic Parts", Flexi-Time, Recordare's Dolet, the new video feature, MIDI files, go more in depth about Layout and more. I'll also round out my impressions of the program, sum up how it compares to Finale, and inform about my decision.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

All or Nothing At All

Here's a new one:

I was speaking to a someone I know earlier this evening. He's marrying off a son soon and we were talking about the music decision for the affair. Apparently, his son felt strongly that having a band was an all or nothing proposition. In other words, the band needed to have at least five musicians, or else he'd have to have a one-man-band. Since having five pieces wasn't a possibility for whatever reason, they'd hired a one-man-band over a four-piece group.

I find it hard to understand the logic and I've not heard of this rationale for choosing a one-man-band before. Has anyone else heard similar logic?

Blogging Perks

Music blogging has its perks. Maybe one day, I too will get to name a llama.

Der Yiddisher Taliban

TTC has the details.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Cantor Poker

I'll see your "chief cantor"... and raise you one Dudu Fisher.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Country (Y.) Music

It's been a while since we looked at CY Magazine. Why, we even passed up blogging the Miami Revach issue!

It's time to check back in with our old friends and see what's new in the world of JM PR. (All of the following comes from the recent "Mike Bloomberg" issue.)

First off, you'll all be glad to know that Miami Boys Choir's "Revach" album and the "Yeshivah Boys Choir 2" album are both still on the "Top 20 in Jewish Music" charts and once again tied for the same slot. Cynics may scoff, and point out that the rankings are bogus, but we prefer to celebrate the serendipity of two big CY ad buyers products achieving the exact same sales numbers month after month.

Yossi Zweig's "The Music Insider" column has lots of insider tidbits about upcoming releases including this revealing factoid about Eitan Katz's "Lma'ancha":
This soulful composition is just the tip of the iceberg as the album consists of 10 songs including Track #10, which is composed by Rabbi Mottel Twersky.

The column includes comments about Ephie Lowinger's "debut album" called "Ahava." This info would come as a surprise to fans of Ephie's earlier album, “Labor Day and Life Insurance”. (Album credits here.) FYI, his fan club appears to have a few positions open.

Rochelle Maruch Miller contributes a lovely ad, whoops, article about Nachman Seltzer's "Shira Chadasha Boys Choir" album. After serving up a nice helping of the usual, the ad, whoops did it again, the article concludes with a reference to another Nachman Seltzer release, "Visions":
Nachman Seltzer has already established himself as a gifted composer and producer and has generated much buzz in the Jewish music industry. In the tradition of Abie Rotenberg, he has produced Visions, an album that bears Nachman's signature standard of excellence. With the release of his first two musical productions, he is well on his way to fulfilling his dream of seeing Jewish music return to its pure and classic roots.
We're not that familiar with Seltzer's work. The only track we've heard --off of Visions-- was a "Shlock-esqe version of Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight." Classic roots indeed.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Reader email...

I've been getting a lot of email lately. Apologies for not responding personally to each. I do hope to get to them in time.

Here's a helping of the latest:

Rebbetzin Chaim David responds to Renegade Rebbetzin:
Thought you'd never ask!
As Chaim David's better half (his wife) I'll try to explain. Initially Yamamai was something that came to him along with the nigun. I thought it was some kind of African influence from his childhood in Johannesberg.Trying to get him to sing la-la-la didn't work -- he kept coming back to ya-ma-mai. The first few times he played it at home it was very somber. I told him it was the worst song he ever wrote and begged him never to play it in public. At some point it was so unbearable I said, "Either that song goes, or I do." His keyboardist also said that this song makes no sense.

Chaim David didn't listen to me (mah-nishtana) and debuted with the new nigun in concert in Hebron. And the rest is history.

Our dear friend, violinist Ruby Harris refers to it as "Yo Mama."

L'havdil, Rav Moshe Weinberger shlita of Aish Kodesh in Woodmere gave a parush that Ya MaMaH is actually the rashai tavot of Y'-Hashem, Melech Malchei Hamelachim.

More recently, Chaim David was told by the daughter of Rav Hillel Leiberman, HY"D that when she sat in jail for protesting the expulsion from Gush Katif, she and the other young women sang it as YoLaMaYa- or Yehudi Lo Migaraish Yehudi.

I don't know what answer Rebbetzin Renegade was expecting. I just hope that she's not sorry that she asked.
Mendel emails:
On one of the early pirchei records there was an old Yiddish song. I think it was called “vi nemt min” do you know where I can find the lyrics?
Z'man Biur forwards a link to his Holiday pet peeves. Some of them are about the music.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

From the mailbag...

Azriel forwards the following info:
The annual Hilula in honor of the Yahrzeit of the Aish Kodesh, HY'D, will take place on Motsai Shabbos Parshas Noach, November 5th, and will once again feature the Divrei Torah of Rav Moshe Weinberger and the music of Yosef Karduner.

The hilula will take place at 8:30 p.m. at the Young Israel of Lawrence Cedarhurst on the corner of Spruce and Broadway in Lawrence. A $10 donation is suggested.
Miriam Hoffmann writes:
Shalom! My name is Miriam Hoffmann and I have a weekly column about Jewish music in the culture section of 'Makor Rishon' in Israel.

I'm searching all the time for new musicians for my column, and while googeling found your Blog ,and learn a lot about the JM scene while reading it from time to time. so first of all - thanks!!

Secondly- if you know about artists who would like a review in our newspaper, I'll be happy to listen to his/her music and review it.

Maybe you can post our address in your blog.

Makor Rishon
Menachem Begin road 116
Kalka House
Tel Aviv

The Rebbe's Ma'amar

Played a non-Lubavitch Bar Mitzvah tonight where the boy's rebbe, who is a Lubavitch chossid, taught the boy to recite the rebbe's ma'amar instead of a speech. As seems to be the custom, the Bar Mitzvah boy recited it at warp speed. I've seen this before and don't get it. What's the point? No appeared to be listening, and even if they were, there was no way that they could have followed it. It's especially frustrating because the crowd could have benefited from a nice simple, but meaningful dvar torah.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Goin' Legal

The 37th Tzaddik is recommending a solution/tikkun for those with pirated music tracks. Personally, we prefer models like itunes and emusic where you buy the tracks and get to keep them.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

For PA Area Readers - Get Tested This Sunday!

Arkady forwards the following email with information about a drive to find a stem cell donor for Michael Brecker in PA:
Please join us on

FROM 10 A.M. TO 3 P.M.

1000 kits have been ordered - with your donation of a little time, you may be the person that will help Michael or someone else in need for their lifetime!

For more info please go to

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Turning Two Links Into Six

Two from The Jerusalem Post:

Ben Jacobson reviews Yidcore's latest. I wouldn't call them "kids", but they're a lot of fun. I'd suggest checking out this one:

Barry Davis profiles jazz pianist Don Friedman. Here's his take on Jewish jazz:
Despite his Jewish origins Friedman says that didn't play much of a role in his personal or artistic development. "I wasn't really brought up in a Jewish atmosphere ,so I don't know if that comes into my music." Recently, however, he had a brief fling with a Jewish-flavored project. " I played in Florida in something called The Hassidic Jazz Project. But, it wasn't that great. I don't think I'll be doing that again."
Somebody needs to play the guy some real Jewish jazz!

Here are a few recommendations:

We've recommended some of these before. This is just a taste of what's out there. Many of these artists' other releases are also well worth checking out, and be sure to look at their other projects as well. The Coleman album is worth getting just for his treatment of the old Yiddish standard, "Belz."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Paul Pincus Z"L (1918-2005)

I was forwarded the following email written by Henry Sapoznik:
Our dear friend clarinetist/sax player Paul Pincus died last night in the wake of a stroke. He was about to be released to home care when his heart failed. He was 87.

I spoke to him a few days ago and he was his usually funny, upbeat and sweet dispositioned self. And despite his illness, terribly excited about coming to this year's KlezKamp.

They didn't get any greater than Paul Pincus.
The funeral is being held tomorrow. Monday, October 24 at 11 am at:

Bloomfield Cooper Jewish Funeral Chapel
44 Burke Street
Burke Street & Wilson Avenue (Rt. 527)
Manalapan, NJ 07726
The email included an address for condolences to Paul's family in care of his sister. I'm not going to post it here, but I'll be glad to forward it to those who would like.

Link Dump - Sukkos edition

The Jerusalem Post reviews Reva L'Sheva's newest disc.

Dilbert muses on Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur melodies and repeating words and Miriam has related peeves.

Mobius has posted a tri-lingual rap track by Nadav Samin aka Siah.

The credits are:
Nadav Samin (Rhymes)
Jonathan Adler (Co-production, Bass)
Eyal Marcovici (Drum Programming, Recording)
Brian Prunka (Oud)
Leanne Darling (Viola)
Inbal Samin (Vocals)
Sarra Abunamaelga (Vocals)
Rawan Abdelrazek (Lyrics)
Nimrod Levi (Lyrics)
Amiram Samin (Lyrics)

Finally, I nominate Yidden!

Koheles Musings

Listening to Koheles in shul yesterday made me wonder yet again what posseses so many Jewish artists to record fast, upbeat settings of the final words "sof davar hakol nishma...". Are they not aware of the meaning and the context?

Also, "Z'vuvei Maves" would be a great name for a Jewish death-metal band, no?

Friday, October 21, 2005

From the mailbag... Sukkos (/t) edition

Here are a number of emails that have come in recently. I haven't had the chance to reply personally, but since many of them are seeking information, I thought I'd put them up and see if any of our readers can help out.

Chag Sameach!

E writes about "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad":
Lucky for you! I am officially sick of the Lev Tahor Im Eshokachaich. I'm tired of everyone singing it every Shabbos for Kedusha. I davened Yom Kippur in a place with 5 different Baalei Tefila and they each used it once!
Serge Perelmutter writes:
I am trying to find sheet music for an old version of Shema Koleinu that I remember from when I was a kid (60 years ago)..Do you have any ideas who might have some arrangements of Shema Koleinu that I could check out to see if I can try and teach it to the choir of my shul? Thanks
Menachem (and others) forward a link to L'Cha by The Chevra - a Music Video by David Lavon.This one's been out there for a while.

Yosef writes:
After seeing 2 links scattered around the web a thought occurred to me:

Link #1:

Link #2:

(I'm sure you've seen these two links before)

Thought: I learnt to play guitar thanks to OLGA . In teaching guitar to friends in the years I've been playing the best advice I've given has always been "Get a bunch of songs you know and play them over and over and over." It really easy to do when your favorite songs are Metallica, it's harder when you listen to MBD, Mattisyahu, or Blue Fringe. I also remember asking a wedding band for some of the song sheets they had put together. I got a response of "Well, how do I know you're not going to just start your own wedding band?" Come on! I was a 15 year old kid who wanted a few guitar chords not Neshama's (super-secret) trumpet lines!

Anyway, to the point. What do you think the response would be to create (or turn yutopia's site) into a Jewish Music Chord Archive? I'm not asking for sheet music and set lists (though a few tabs would always be nice), just text files with words and chords. I doubt that any new bands will be created to be masig g'vul because of this project but even if there are, you know a wedding gig isn't built on 3 chord acoustic guitar songs.

As to link #2 above, it's an interesting effort by a new musician to get his songs played. Regardless of who plays them it will mean more publicity for him.

Those were my thoughts on the matter. Would you be interested in posting a note on your blog calling for opinions on the matter? Maybe calling for contributions? Lord knows there are enough of us out there who can sit for five mins and write up the chords to Ha'facta.
I'm pretty sure that Josh Yuter sees his OLGA as doing just what Yosef is envisioning. I'd suggest that anyone intersted in a Jewish OLGA should participate at Yuter's site. Incidentally, I had several similar experiences awith several bands as a kid when I asked for some sheet music.

David writes:
Hey- just stumbled on your blog, and was struck primarily by your interest in sincere, soulful, "authentic" Jewish music. I am a therapist, and live in Brooklyn, 28 years old. When I was in Yeshiva (primarily then- Ner Israel, Baltimore), I composed a number of songs, would probably still be composing stuff if I actually had the time to sit with my guitar these days. Most of them are slow, kumzitz style...I have them on tape, me singing and strumming guitar to them- musically and technically they're unsophisticated, but I (and friends) like to think they're soulful and singable!

Question: is this stuff worth sending to you for review? Truth is, I like how Yaakov Schweky sings; do you know how I can
get ahold of him and see if he's interested? All I want is to get a singer who I like, to sing these songs the style they were meant to be performed and sung in. What do you think?
Again, if anyone has any information for any of these people, please let us know and we'll be glad to pass it on.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

From the mailbag...

Alan Watsky writes about this:
People are on to the Moldavian tunes and style. German Goldenshteyn has been active on the Klezkamp scene with M. Alpert and Alex Kantorovitch teaching the songs and styles. Also Stas Ryko , whose name I just misspelled, has been doing Ukrainian field work and is a very fine fiddler in his own right. This is the "folk stream" and is what we're most excited about for the last few years.

Check out Di Neye Kapelye and Veretsky Pass. More folky/funky/rhythmic Jewish music.
There is soon to be an evolution and rebirth of a Jewish pan European folk style. A highly nuanced performance style that reintegrates Jewish/Yiddish Folk culture with the with its European roots. Its happening NOW. The happy result will be the reestablishment of Jewish Culture in Eastern Europe. Aftselakhis.

Also consider that there is and was a whole lot of Iron Curtain stuff that was recorded between the wars, that is available and interesting. More Stalinist and organized, but still Jewish. There is lots of interesting Eurocentric Jewish music that is very danceable and not nostalgia bound. Joyous musical culture.
Ron writes:
I am researching the old Jewish music record label Tikva Records. I wonder if any of your readers/contributors know anything about the label, its practices or its owners? Any anecdotes or information is welcomed. Thanks much!
If anyone has any information, we'll be glad to pass it on.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

So we made it through the Yomim Noraim without hitting the trifecta. First time in years. The trifecta consists of three semi-recent melodies that are invariably used by chazzanim (usually for kedusha); Machnisei Rachamim, Shiru Lamelech, and Ein Aroch.

Update: 12/23/05
Couldn't make it through the whole season, though. We got the third one at Musaf yesterday. (We'd gotten the other two on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Pro Tools 7

Peter Kirn comments on Pro Tools 7. I agree that Digi should have added many of these features years ago.

The new instrument track should also have been included long ago. That being said, the upgrade looks good, and the bonus plug-in pricing is a smart idea.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

10/9/05 Link Dump

Rivka comments on "Palestinian Rap."


Aryeh reviews the BaRock Orchestra wedding album.

Coming soon: fake "KISS."

Esther kvetches:
The problem I have with Mattisyahu, the Lubavitch reggae superstar whose album recently went to number one on the Reggae charts, is that his success means that Jewish kids everywhere are going to think that they themselves can reggae-rap their way to superstardom. It's what, back in high school, I used to call the Beastie Boys Effect: as word spread that the three Boys had gone to yeshiva, the boys I went to high school with began to have delusions of rapping grandeur, if such a thing there be...and my concern is that the Effect will re-emerge, with a beat that's distinctly reggae. And copycat yeshiva reggae artists? We'll end up with rabbi/rap/reggae hybrids like RambEminem, Fat Joe-sephus and Jew-Z. The world does not need that.

From the mailbag...

E sends a link to "The Chupa Singer." No, it's not an Adam Sandler movie. He also forwards this Shidduch Music Video featuring Gavriel P. and the Lonely Hearts. This one is for J and T. Nachas!

Shane Solow writes:
I believe you might be interested in a recent recording from Lost Trails ( - If you could possibly add a link to us it would be greatly appreciated

We recorded musicians in northern Romania that play archaic melodies that we believe are a prototype for Klezmer music. They learned the melodies from Jewish musicians who lived in this region before the second world war. They are some of the last performers who know this tradition.

The musicians on the CD are:
Constantin Lupu - violin
Constantin Nege - cobza
Anton Mitica Stefan - drum

A link to the recording with some free downloads can be found here - Lost Trails: Roots of Klezmer.
Well, of course you hate spam! It's not kosher, is it? And neither is not paying you directly after the gig. You're correct to assert that a
musician is a day labourer and that it is a mitzva to pay immediately after the gig. Your assertion that it is against halakha is, however, incorrect. A mitzva is what H" wants us to do. Halakha is how the Rabbis want us to do it. Think of mitzvot as F Major and Halakha as D Minor. They are naturally related. But Halakha is up the scale, shall we say, from Mitzva.

If you are gigging once, you MUST be paid immediately after. This is so even if you are placed by an agency, BUT...

The halakha of paying a day labourer can modify the mitzva in two ways.

1. If you are employed by the agency, this can be seen as your steady gig; only your venue changes. Under these circumstances, it is certainly appropriate for the agency to pay you immediately. There is no obligation to do so if the agency adheres to a widely adopted professional or industrial standard for payment.

2. If your gig is long standing at the venue, you are not necessarily a day labourer, especially if you have accepted upon yourself to be paid other than daily.

I have never met a musician who wanted to apear at a venue only once. I have met many who BEHAVED this way, and the venue, of course, would oblige them. I assume they would be paid the same day if the furniture and fixtures have been left undamaged and the reputation of the club is unsullied.
I think this is in response to this post on Lo Talin. I think he may have missed this follow-up post though. Unless I'm misreading something, I don't see where we disagree.

Shmuel forwards this video clip of a NYC subway performer.

Arkady sends this link with pics and audio from a recent recording session he played on.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

9/30/05 Link Dump

Shira Salamone as written a powerful post inspired by Blue Fringe's "Hineni" lyrics:
"Would take your only son?
Would you lay your answer down?
Would you bind him to the stone?
Would you take your only son?"
Be sure to read the comments as well.

A Simple Jew has written a sweet post about his daughter singing Yom Tov songs.

Heichal HaNegina posts about the Modzitzer Rebbes Yom Tov compositions.

LIFE-of-RUBIN has some thoughts on new Jewish music.

Here's a Jerusalem Post article about pianist Yaron Gottfried.

Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein has written a post for Cross-Currents:
And the words of the prophet they are written on the subway walls… – Paul Simon

So many of those seers came forth after Katrina, that the walls of the 34th St Station could have run out of room fairly quickly. Some of the reverse prognostications even came, to the embarrassment of some of us, from pretty well placed persons within the Torah community. (My favorite, however, comes from outside of it. It is the one that holds George Bush personally responsible, since he refused to sign on to Kyoto. That, of course, directly produced enough global warming to cause the current spate of tropical storms.)

Many of us skeptics suffered in silence, as we listened to a march of authorities tell us what everyone else was doing wrong. My son Peysi reminded me of two levels of irony in the rush to judgment.

The first concerned the suicide bombing at the Dolphinarium in Tel Aviv. Some holy figure told the world that the reason for the tragedy was undoubtedly Divine retribution for the Shabbos desecration of the patrons of that disco. A few months later, a bomber struck at the entrance to Emmanuel, a haredi town with no Shabbos desecration to speak of. A writer in Haaretz couldn’t resist the opportunity to announce that the tragedy certainly was Divine retribution for the sin of being haredi.

The more serious error in the spate of finger-pointing, observed my son, was that it run completely counter to the way Gedolim always reacted in the past, pointing the finger of guilt back at ourselves, rather than towards others. Our leaders used to offer no reason as to why the victims of cataclysmic events were swallowed up by them; they did, however, point out that if we were doing a better job of things, the world would be a more perfect place, and tragedies would not strike in the same way. Horrifying headlines became platforms upon which to deliver mussar talks that urged us to take stock of our own houses, rather than burn down those of others.
Read the whole thing!