In the past, we've noted writer Rabbi Ephraim Luft's sentiments, but perhaps a different writer might have present another perspective.
Writer Binyomin Y. Rabinowitz shares his feelings in the above linked article; part one of an interview with three chassidic composers.
Weddings—bands—music. Harsh, discordant notes have infiltrated the world of the Jewish yeshiva. The Torah ear has lost the feel of the pure sound and has let dissonant notes change the notes of the heart and cut it to the quick.Tell us how you really feel, Binyomin!
The musical ladder, instead of serving as a ladder upwards has become a downhill slope. Under the cover of these notes, a link has been formed with the streets, and important barriers have been broken down. The consequences are likely to be severe from a spiritual standpoint.
It gets worse by the day. The dreadful negative influences are seen all over. Educational experts state unanimously that this issue is a major constituent in the decline of our young people.
There is no need to rush to the streets in order to go downhill. The cheap, bestial atmosphere of the streets has already permeated inside. If in the past it came through the back door, and was latent and concealed, today it is starkly apparent for all to see.
An on-site examination makes it manifestly clear that the community is not immune to this serious plague of modern life. Even if there are certain circles where the situation is less serious, it has still infiltrated and continues to infiltrate and cause harm. In short, we are facing a most dismal situation that pervades the world of song and music.
It is now the season of simchas and weddings. It is a fitting time to tackle this severe plague. And not only that. We feel it deeply ourselves. There is no doubt that this situation forces everyone to go to war. Not, choliloh vechas, against people — but against the system. To erect walls, as thick and high as possible. Because otherwise, we are getting close, we have already come close—no, we are already at the bottom rungs of the ladder. On a slippery slope that it will soon become very difficult to extricate ourselves from.
One of the interviewees, Rabbi Shlomo Kalish (who composed many recent Belzer hits) is quoted:
In a case where the person is not proper, and the song does not come from a pure source, can that song be brought into the beis hamedrash, to a tish?Thanks for clearing that up. We hadn't realized that licentious music is a new invention, probably dating from circa Michael Jackson's "Beat It!" You learn something new every day!
Rabbi Kalish: That question can be divided into two. The poskim relate to this question, that was apparently more common abroad where Jews took songs from the goyim. In the responsa of the Bach [Ed. the classical posek, not the classical composer], he answers this question and rules that it is forbidden to sing songs of avodoh zora, but the other songs of goyim are permitted.
I haven't asked the poskim today, but one could reasonably make a distinction between the songs of those days and the songs of today. Apparently, the songs of the goyim in those days were not as cheap in quality, and the question was whether to take such songs and sing them in the shuls or not. But today the songs are taken from a world of licentiousness and low desires, and therefore I would think that today it is really forbidden to use them. The spirit that is latent inside the melody is invasive and influential!
You ask how can we tell whether the song can be brought into a beis hamedrash or a tish?
But the question itself is the answer! Listen to it and you will know whether it is fit to be sung in a beis hamedrash or a tish. If it is not fit, then it is defective and treif, plain and simple! And if it cannot be sung then it is forbidden to sing it!
Here's some more:
Back to halocho lema'aseh. The fact is that the Bach allows everything aside from songs of avodoh zora. In my humble opinion, in those times no one dreamed or imagined that if they sung songs of the goyim, they would end up imitating the lifestyle of the composer of the song, and the like. It was simply not an issue. But today we really feel it: that a group of people—and I do not know what leads to what—when they start going downhill and degenerating, they sing certain specific songs of certain singers and composers.I wonder if he's planning to buy the new Chevra CD?
Via the Yahoo Jewish Music Group.
Over at Create Digital Music, Peter Kirn rants about Microsoft's Zune deal with Universal.
Sing it, brother!
I'd take issue with his support of ASCAP. ASCAP is good for protecting the rights of certain categories/types of performers.Unfortunately, it appears that they have no interest in accommodating the rights of ethnic music performers, unless they achieve crossover success. Forget accomodation, they don't even respond to email and/or snail mail. A shame, because I actually think an existant performing rights organization could help resolve some rights issues in the Jewish music world.
Speaking of Microsoft's Zune mp3 player... the NYT pans the Zune. Especially note the sharing restrictions on beamed music making it practically impossible to use for promoting your own music. This is a dumb move by Microsoft.
Slate's Jody Rosen writes: "Borat Owes Me 97 Dollars: How Sacha Baron Cohen is Jewish vaudeville."
One of Chaim's readers, takes on Country Yossi listeners over his use of secular music.
Finally, Frum With Questions has, natch, questions, about the lineup for the Carlebach Yahrtzeit concert.