Thursday, June 30, 2005

Final Answer?

Yitz responds to Chaim's final response:
If Chaim gave up, Yitz hasn't. You see, Chaim responded to me on his own blog, the link is provided below. I understand he doesn't want to discuss this issue any further, and he has every right to do that. But similarly, I believe I have every right to respond to the points he raised in his "final" post.

Firstly, I mentioned other examples of musical plagiarism besides that of Chabad - MBD's use of Carlebach's "Tov Lehodos" as "V'Chol Ma'aminim" and Pirchei's outright theft of his "Eilecha."

To be very clear, I NEVER accused the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZT"L of anything, nor do I intend to do so now. I am not a Lubavitcher [Moshichist or otherwise], nor am I a Lubavitch-basher, which Chaim seems to be so paranoid about. And I don't have a lack of respect for the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZT"L, I think he was a great man, and many of us, myself included, owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to him for his spearheading the outreach movement in America in the 1950s with his first shaliach, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, who, together with Zalman Shacter, was sent to the college campuses, actually by the Rebbe Maharyatz. [And of course, this outreach movement was developed exponentially by the Rebbe ZT"L in the years that followed and spread throughout the world, and continues to this day].

The difference between the MBD, Yehuda!, Tzlil v'Zemer, etc. ripoffs of "secular music" and what Pirchei did to Reb Shlomo's "Eilecha," or the Chabad ripoff of the Vishnitz "V'hayu Limshisa" for their "Yifrach b'Yamav Tzaddik" is one of degree, not of kind. I cannot fathom how Chaim sees that stealing a song note-for-note, changing the words perhaps [for with Eilecha, even that wasn't done!] is different depending if the source is another Jew's musical composition or if it belonged originally to the goyim. Why even the famous "Chabad" tune, "Shamil," has its origins in a Ukranian peasant folksong! [See the liner notes to Andy Statman's "The Hidden Light" for more about this].

What do I mean by public perception? Simple. Chabad has an organization called "Nichoach - Niggunei Chassidei Chabad." They have put out numerous recordings of Chabad music. According to this website, , there are some 16 recordings. They average about 10 songs per recording, so we're talking about some 150 or so songs. If you look at some of the song listings, you will find the following: on "disk 2", there's "Niggun L'Rebbe Michel miZlotchov." Aha, credit is given! Disk 3 has "Kol baYa'ar", a niggun known to be from the Shpoler Zeidie, although I don't believe his name is mentioned. Same disk contains the previously mentioned Twerski tune, "Hoshia es Amecha." Disk 8, lo and behold, contains "Yifrach b'Yamav Tzaddik."

Now, Chaim, when they sang this tune at Lubavitch Farbrenghens, I have no right to claim that the Rebbe ZT"L, or anyone else, should have gotten up and announced, "Hey, Chevra, this is a Vishnitz niggun." Absolutely not. But - here's the rub - when you put out a recording of "Niggunei Chassidei Chabad," don't you think that THERE is the place to note that the niggun is a Vishnitz one? Come on, let's be honest and truthful here!

And one more thing, if there are so many ORIGINAL Chabad niggunim, why do they have to seek out tunes of others for the Rebbe's birthday niggun [which Yifrach b'Yamav was]? What's wrong with using a niggun from one of the Rebbes or Chabad Chassidim? [With all of this, I do NOT hold the Rebbe ZT"L responsible, but rather those individuals that run or work for Nichoach. And I can't believe that they bothered to ask the Rebbe if they should give credit for something, and that the Rebbe said, "No."]

No, I am not looking for Rebbes or Roshei Yeshiva to make announcements about who was the composer of each and every niggun they sing. But when you put out a recording, for gosh sakes, which purports to be of a SPECIFIC group's music, isn't it g'nveivas da'as NOT to mention that a particular tune comes from another group or individual [Carlebach]? And what about copyright laws and such - is every song, just because it became popular, allowed to be copied?