Sunday, December 28, 2008

12/28/08 Link Dump

In Lipa news...

Here are some details about his upcoming "The Event live" Concert at MSG.

And now for the headline entertainment of the year: The Event! Finally, billboards are starting to spring up around us, projecting this colossal, stupendous, simply spectacular production. Tickets will iy'H be going on sale within a week. The exclusive, explosive website should be up and running within a few days' time.
There's really no reason to expound on the extraordinarily exceptional and exhilaratingly exciting experience to be expected at The Event. The name says it all. All-star surprise acts will entrance and enthrall the crowd. And of course, we can always count on Lipa for a heart-stopping, spine-tingling, pulse-pounding, adrenaline-rushing performance.
The concert is in tribute to the legendary Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum, z'l, a pioneer in Jewish music. A special, scintillating presentation by Abie Rottenberg will honor the sorely-missed Rabbi Eli. A new Pirchei by Avi Newman and Eli Gerstner will amaze and mesmerize. Music by the genuine genius Yisroel Lamm will resound and reverberate throughout the hall. And one thing's for sure: Nobody can take every aspect of a show and bring it all together onto center stage like the illustrious Sheya Mendlowitz. Be sure to buy your tickets to The Event of a lifetime!

Teruah posts "Battle of Driedel Kitsch - Gay Cowboys vs Ersatz Hassids."

Watch This Space! It goes live Jan. 1st.

Here's the Third Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert, with a rocking version of Mi Yimallel by Psycho Toddler.

Jewschool posts a link to two women singing Hallel set to Christmas carols.

Oh dear, it's Livni Boy.

Because he was just that good, here's Bruce Adler singing Hootsatsa.

The Forward reports on "Ikh Vil Zein A Rebbe." Here's a Vos Iz Neias comments thread. Matthue Roth comments.

Rokhl get nauseous over klez-journalism.

Finally, it's the hit single, "Auto Tune!"

Some Comments on Beyond Boundaries: Klezmer Music in the 21st Century

I attended the Beyond Boundaries: Klezmer Music in the 21st Century Symposium hosted by the Center for Jewish Studies at CUNY in NYC last week.

I haven't seen any coverage of this event, so I'm going to share some comments.

The event consisted of a series of presentations followed by an evening concert. Scheduling conflicts precluded my attending the concert, so I'll have no thoughts on that part of the event.

The event was moderated by Dr. Marsha Dubrow, Resident Scholar in Jewish Music, The Center for Jewish Studies Initiative in Jewish Music Research and Performance, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York.

The symposium participants and their topics were:

Dr. Hankus Netsky (New England Conservatory of Muisc), Multi-instrumentalist, Founder, Klezmer Conservatory Band
"As We Move Forward, Don't Forget To look Back"

Alicia Svigals, Violinist, Co-Founder, The Klezmatics
"The Audacity of Hora: Fiddling With The Future"

Dr. Joel Rubin, (University of Virginia), Clarinetist, Founder, The Joel Rubin Ensemble
"Transmigrations of a Genre: Reflections on the Uses of Religious Symbolism in Contemporary Klezmer"

Eve Sicular, Drummer, Founder, Metropolitan Klezmer and Isle of Klezbos Bands
"Hidden in Plain Sight: The Yiddish Celluloid Closet, J. Edgar Klezmer and Retro Pop Culture"

Stephen Dankner, Composer, Commentator, Aouthor of "Klezmer Fantasy" Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
"Klezmer Goes Classical: Folk Dance Forms Meet the Concerto"

Yale Strom, Violinist, Filmmaker, Author, Founder, Hot Pstromi Band
"In the Key of klezmer: The Soundtrack for Jewish Renewal in America"

Seth Rogovoy, Cultural Commentator, Editor-in-Chief, Berkshires Living
"Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Beyond Klezmer and Beyond the Jewish Soul"

I thought the presentations varied wildly, from a content and quality standpoint. To me, the most effective presentations were by Dr. Netsky and Alicia Svigals.

Dr. Netsky spoke movingly about the importance of looking back, even as this music in its current incarnations moves in new directions. He played a short clip of the late clarinetist Marty Levitt to begin his speech. His message is one that Jewish musicians would do well to internalize.

Alicia Svigal's presentation was a bit unorganized, but interesting. She played different clips demonstrating contemporary approaches to playing klezmer, and her approach included both clips of her own performances (and some live playing) as well as a Josh Dolgin aka So-Called music video about Jewish cowboys.

Dr. Joel Rubin's presentation seemed too focused on minor details of mostly the work of two artists, Frank London and Lorin Sklamberg. His attempt to extrapolate a trend out of it seemed a bit forced to me. Perhaps he needed more time to develop his presentation. The fifteen minute time limit per speaker was quite limiting, I suspect.

Seth Rogovoy gave a nice talk with some nice audio clips to illustrate.

Yale Strom's talk was a bit over the top. Strom even laid credit for Chabad Houses across the world on the klezmer revival. A grandiose, but inaccurate claim. I was quite surprised to see this assertion pass without challenge. I'd have raised the question, but it was tangential to the main point of the conference, and since the presentations were followed by a panel discussion with very little time alloted for audience questions, it seemed silly to take people's time on that.

The other speakers, Stephen Dankner and Eve Sicular spoke about their current projects, which might/might not be representative of trends in Klezmer in the 21st Century.

To me, the notable omission, particularly given Dr. Netsky and Dr. Rubin's talks, was any mention of the Chassidic/Simcha music traditions. There was one brief reference made, during the panel discussion, wherein Alicia Svigals and Dr. Netsky, in talking about the early days of the klezmer revival, made reference to the fact that they did not consider simcha music to be klezmer.

It seems to me, that any serious look at klezmer, ought to consider looking sideways as well as back, to see how klezmer has developed within the chassidic communities who still perform/sing this music. It's not all Genghis Khan, you know.

In particular, some of the chassidic communities in Israel have been the ones who brought in/developed the Meron repertoire, a very fertile area for musicological research. As well, I believe that looking at the evolution of Chassidic nigun is very worthwhile for klezmorim. Drawing an arbitrary boundary that leaves out what in some cases is an unbroken chain of transmission of this music seems limiting.

This is especially important in light of contemporary trends on the simcha music scene. I believe that there is a window of opportunity now for researchers to interview and record both musicians/experts as well as people from within the community with strong memories of how this music was used. However, due to the changes on the simcha circuit over the past few decades, we've reached the point where there is a younger generation that is not familiar with certain dances, dance styles, melodies, or even genres, that until recently were common within the various communities.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

For Everything Else, There's Mastercard

Dreidels - $4

Fake Chassidic beards - $75

Airfare for guest rapper - $800

The graffiti artist who appears in the background of your music video accidentally tagging Yeshua (Jesus) instead of your name, Yehoshua - Priceless

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chanukah Audio Links

Jack Zaintz has posted his first ever podcast, Episode 1: The Hanukkah Show.

Jewish World Review has posted a Chanukah music special, DJ'd by Nachum Segal.

The Klezmer Podcast has posted a special Hanukkah episode.

Finally, here's Kol Zimra singing at the annual White House Hanukah Party.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

But, Kol Isha!!!

Here's a post off of a local Jewish music email list.
December 25
208 west 13th Street NY NY 10011
Neshama and David Morgan will be performing at the GLBT Community
Chanukah Party. The party will be from 7-10, Neshama's performance
will be at 8:30 PM.... NOTE: SEE BELOW
Here's the note, which is applied to all vocal performances by women listed in the email:
****NOTE: for these events, Kol Isha may apply, please consult your local orthodox rabbi for more info.
Oh, dear!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Couldn't Save His Life... But You Can!

A while back, when a musician on the JM circuit was fighting leukemia, I did a number of posts about bone marrow donation through the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation.

I've urged everyone to get tested as potential donors, becuase the odds are highest, that a match will be found with someone from similar genetic background. So, each community is better off when more of its members are listed in the registry.

I'd like to take this opportunity to raise this issue again for two timely reasons. The first is that the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation is one of the victims of the Madoff scandal. The Jerusalem Post reports:
At least one nonprofit is calling out for help in the wake of Madoff's collapse: The Gift of Life Foundation, a Jewish bone marrow registry that relied heavily on Madoff as a benefactor, announced on its Web site Sunday that it would immediately need to raise $1.8 million to make up for recent losses.
The work this foundation does literally saves lives. They need donors, both financial and of bone marrow. Please support both of these needs.

The second reason I mention this now is because of a recent story that happened to me.

A few weeks ago, I got home to find a message from the National Bone Marrow Registry. I'd been identified as a potential match for a middle-aged leukemia patient. They asked if I was still willing to be a donor. When I told them I would, they sent me a test to take at home. The reason for the test was to confirm if I was a match.

I'd originally been tested in 1992, during the first drive aimed at the frum community. Since then, the test has changed from blood donation to a simple mouth swab. I believe they also can check do additional tissue typing at this time. So, I took the test and sent it back in. I was hoping that I'd be a match.

This past weekend, I received a letter informing me that I and the patient have some differences in tissue type, and the patient's doctor has decided do continue searching for a donor who matches the patient more closely. So, sadly, in this case I did not turn out to be a match. But that possibility only existed because I was tested as a potential donor. Please get tested. And, please support the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation You just might save a life.

Now That's A Holiday Song!

I'm Dreaming of A White Kwanzaa!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

12/11/08 Link Dump

Parshablog follows up on the fraudulent DMCA takedown notices filed over the "Ikh Vil Zein A Rebbe video."

Move over, Pete! It's the real fifth Epstein Brother!

The Center for Traditional Music and Dance has released Dave Tarras's "Music for the Traditional Jewish Wedding.

Raising the bar on Jewish music yet again.

Not what you think: Echod Yochid U'meyuchod.

Heichal HaNegina posts "The Homeless Mizmor L'David."

Ari Goldwag posts Mitzvah Gedola and Kol Haolam Kulo on his redemption-themed blog.

The "Tanzhoyz" movement spreads to Chicago

From, here are " The Early Na Nachs."

Here's ‘Prop 8: The Musical.’

Rusion Klezmer Mikhail Altshuller was beaten in the Moscow subway. He had a concussion and bruised ribs.

File under Muppets: Animal sings about the klezmer revivalist traditionalists.

Finally, here's a PSA YouTube clip of an original Hassidic song, "The Sin of Masturbation." This is going to #1 on Country Yossi's JM chart for sure! Remix, anyone?

From the mailbag...

E. forwards a link to Michelle Citin's Chanukah Video"Pass The Candle."

I.C. writes:
I read your recent post regarding the rebbe video, and it seems to me that Shauly is not backing down from his criticism of rebbes. He says only that he would have done a better job if he knew it would pop up on the internet.

I know you were a staunch critic of the Lipa ban, as am I, but it should stop and make you think that perhaps the banners were correct - being that Lipa's songwriters (at least one of them) harbor such animosity for the rebbes.

Do we really want our children emulating such individuals?
The notion that this retroactively justifies the banners actions is silly. As I've amply documented, the way the ban was issued in this case was unjustified and against halacha; even if you grant all of their (varied and shifting) premises. So, no, I don't think this justifies their actions at all.

Have you ever heard the original song being parodied? The spoof version was sharp satire, but quite accurate, and obviously modeled on the original Nickelback song. The video crossed the line, but, Shauly says he had nothing to do with that anyway.

The final question "Do we really want our children emulating such individuals?" is a separate question. Personally, I believe that if these leaders want our children to respect them, they have to change the way they deal with these types of situations. These bans do a lot of damage to their image, especially among the young. Rightfully so. The lack of respect they're feeling from the younger generation has been well-earned over the past few years. They've been acting just like politicians. The youth see the hypocrisy and unfairness and respond to that.

Moshe writes:
I’ve been following your series of posts on this book, and I just find it ironic that this Kannoish author must have researched all this stuff on the web – no? Where else would he have found all this – the B’nei Brak public library? :-)
I suspect that he found a book or two on the subject, and in addition to citing them, is quoting all of the sources cited in those books as if he has independent knowledge of them. I've come across one or two cites that don't jive with my recollection of the original.

David Harris Ebenbach writes:
I''ve just stumbled across your blog -- I've been looking for blogs where Judaism and the arts intersect -- and I think it's great. I am a fiction writer and a poet and a person who teaches about writing and the creative process for writers, artists and musicians more generally.

I'm writing because I’ve just launched a blog called “The Artist’s Torah” that I think might interest you; my blog explores the nature of creativity and the creative process for artists and others, using a Jewish religious lens. I'm sure you're busy, and may not have time to take a look, but I thought I'd send you an e-mail anyway, just in case this might spark your interest.

If you're still reading, if you haven’t hit that “delete e-mail” button yet, and if you want to get right to the site, here’s the address:The Artist's Torah

If you’d be interested in a little more detail:

As a writer, and as a person who teaches about creativity, I find myself regularly wrestling with a number of big questions that are rooted in the life I lead: What is creativity? Where does it come from? Who has it? How does it work? What does it do in the world? As a Jewish writer, I find myself asking: What, if anything, does Judaism have to say about all this?

In Judaism, we turn for understanding first and foremost to the Torah. Our sages have even suggested that God read the Torah for instructions when creating the universe! Now, I should say that I personally don’t take a story like that literally, but see it instead as a kind of inspired metaphor for just how rich the Torah is as a text, how full it is of a people’s
accumulated wisdom, how engaged it is with what we feel as sacred in the universe. With that understanding, this blog delves into our weekly Torah readings for wisdom on all aspects of the creative person’s life. Above all, this exploration is meant to be open and useful to all creative people, whether religious or not, whether Jewish or not, whether a professional artist or a part-time amateur.

So – feel free to check out “The Artist’s Torah.” If you like what you read and want to be notified whenever there’s a new post (I’ll post once or twice per week), click the “subscribe” link on the right side of the page. And if you think others might be interested, don’t hesitate to spread the word as far as it’ll go.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's Time For Some More Peeps!

"Ms. Peacock Feathers"
"You know what this party needs?" says this peep to the bride's mom. "Peacock feathers!" This party planner sells the family on "peacock centerpieces" suspended over the dance floor. There are nine of these globes suspended from the ceiling. Each is made out of peacock feathers and is about three feet in circumference. "You know what else this party needs?" Candles, suspended in midair by fishing line, burning in glass bowls, hanging under and around the peacock feathers. "It'll be so romantic."

Ever wonder what burning feathers smells like? Well, at this event, we get to find out every few moments, when each draft of air sets more feathers to singeing.

"Dance Slut"
Because nothing says congratulations on assuming the ol hamitzvos, like Daddy hiring a swivel-hipped Latina with a spray-painted on dress to gyrate on the lit up dance floor while the guests enter the Bar mitzvah ballroom for dinner. Naturally, this is the gig the yeshivish "name" vocalist brings his eight-year old son to, so that he can see what daddy does for a living.

"Line Dance Guy"
This peep is the one who comes over and requests a song that totally clashes with the vibe the band and ba'al simcha have set for the evening. We could be playing acoustic folksy versions of Carlebach classics, nigunim, and the like, but "Line Dance Guy" must have Yidden, or else. Oy! Way to ruin the mood.

Psachya sends in a few as well:
1) "The Camp Counselors" - Apparently, the groom (or bride) has been an icon at Camp Whatever for the last ten summers, so they invite a bunch of camp staff to the wedding. As a result, any popular songs that have been co-opted by the camp must only be sung with the new camp lyrics. Example: (to the tune of "Ai-Didi-Dai"): "Camp Whatever, Camp Whatever, Camp Whatever is the best!" (repeat until comatose). Another result - camp shtick must be performed *immediately*, no matter what else is going on. ("Hey, we did a great camp shtick to the tune of the "Indiana Jones" theme song - can we do it RIGHT NOW?!" "Well, maybe we should wait until the bride gets down the aisle, don't you think?")

2) "The Elevator Kids" - those are the kids whose sum total of the wedding experience is riding up & down & up & down & up & down the elevator. (Halls with glass elevators are particularly prone to this phenomena.) They race each other with the stairs. They hold the doors open forever. And they are particularly active whenever a musician needs to move equipment through the elevator quickly. Of course, some halls have become aware of this problem, so they lock their elevators. Which leads us to the third peep:

3) "The Only Guy (Or Gal) In The Hall With The Key To The Elevator Who Can Never, Ever Be Found." 'Nuff said.
We'd met the "Camp Counselors" aka the "Camp Songs Guy" here.

In Review: Shir La La Chanukah

In the mail...

Shir La La Chanukah: Sing and Dance with Shirah Kline

Subtitled "Outrageously Hip Jewish Kiddie Rock", this Chanukah gift package, available directly from, includes a personalized gift note and a bag of chocolate Chanukah coins (by Elite under OU certification).

Aimed squarely at the little ones, this is a fun album of Chanukah songs. Shira's singing style is light and upbeat and the musicianship is wonderful throughout. The music blends diverse influences including rock, swing, Middle-eastern grooves, and even one hip-hop track.

The colorful liner booklet includes all of the song lyrics and a cartoon retelling of the Chanukah story. Translations and transliterations are provided where appropriate. "Oh Chanukah/Oy Chanukah" is performed in English and Yiddish and Jewish folk music legend Jeff Klepper guests on mandolin on that track.

Fave tracks include "Hayom Chanukah", "Where Is It?", and "Lots of Latkes." You can listen to audio samples here.

A while back, we introduced a feature, "Back Seat Review" which we'll continue here.

Backseat reviewer: "Right, it's not nice that she sings "boogie woogie, shake your tushie? [on the first song. ed.] Pauses for thought...They must have been in the bathroom when they recorded that part!"

You can find more information about Shira and all of her other albums, including the upcoming "ShirLaLa Green Album" at her website.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up!

In today's news from Chelm Bnei Brak: "Chazanus CD Raises Questions About Disturbing The Dead"
A recently released album containing songs performed by legendary Chazzanim has been causing turmoil among the Charedi community due to the fact that the performers are all dead.

Record company AMC, which produced the album titled “בימים ההם בזמן הזה - In Those Days, At This Time,” used old recordings, had the sound digitally improved and added background music performed by a philharmonic orchestra.

This process of audio manipulation has disturbed many buyers, who flooded the company with questions and complaints: “How is it that the cantor knows to wait for the orchestra? There must be some sort of spell here – is this séance? Does the Halacha allow tampering with the voices of the dead?”...
...According to Rashi, what might have caused the confusion was the fact that old, low-quality vinyl tracks have been cleaned up and now sound as if they had been recorded recently. Another possible reason for the misunderstanding may have originated in the advertisements for the new CD saying “The great masters of Chazzanus come to life.”

Monday, December 08, 2008

What If They Threw A Ban and Nobody Listened?

This Hamercaz article title, "Lakewood Roshei Yeshiva Ban Women's Entertainment Event", says it all.

Note this part:
In any case, the ban seemed to have little effect. Women who attended the event report that the performers played to a packed house.

Some pointed to the last-minute nature of the ban as reason for the scant attention payed to it; phone calls prohibiting attendance at the event were made after 8:00 pm Sunday night, when most attendees had already left their homes to go to the event.
The last-minute nature of these bans constitutes an additional Chilul Hashem, over and above the ban itself. These events are planned, organized, and advertised to the community well in advance. There is simply no justification for instituting a ban at the last minute. These rabbis seem not to have learned from the recent ban fiascos. It's a crying shame!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Rebbishe Mayse

We recently linked a satirical video titled "Ikh Vil Zeyn A Rebbe." The video, which first appeared on the Chaptzem Blog quickly went viral and was posted on many other blogs. Hirhurim posted a link to our post and then, after a heated comments thread, removed the post explaining his rationale here.

In the meantime, a fake copyright violation takedown request was filed with YouTube by "Chofetz Chaim". Parshablog writes about the controversy here. There is a working copy of the video on YouTube, but the links in many of the earlier posts are dead due to the fake request. (The link in our earlier post is working.)

Meanwhile, the singer/songwriter tells Chaptzem that he did record the song for own entertainment, not for the public. He writes:
This is Shauly Grossman. I'm not about to run after everyone I know and explain myself, but I can't hold myself back here. I made this song together with other similar songs (on Goyish tunes) for fun more than a year ago. I never dreamed that anybody but my few friends will hear it and if I would have known that a year later I'm gonna find it on the net, just like you, with no clue how and who, I wouldn't have made it. At least I would have made it a drop more professional.
Anyways, I'm sorry if I offended anybody. It was meant for my own private fun.

I am a Tzanzer Chussid and really look up to him, but I can't help but agree with the guy that said "if they want our respect, they should earn it". As my family found out the hard way, most of the BIG Rabbonim, especially the big ones by whom you are nothing but another piece of meat, (at least the small ones try their best to be there for their people, they need them) are good for telling you that you need to do the right thing and Hashem will help. They were there to tell us that. But when it came to real life, when you really need their help, you can talk to the wall. If you want them to do anything but talk, you are alone.
Grossman, who wrote lyrics for the title track to Lipa Schmeltzer's "A Poshiter Yid", says that he says he did not make the video and does not know who did. Taken apart from the video, the song is a sharp satirical look at unqualified "leaders" who inherit their positions, but do not deserve them. It's a sharp and humorous social critique. With the video added, it becomes a personal critique of the specific rebbes pictured (as well as Rabbis Aaron Schacter and Avremel Schorr).

In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part VI

In Chapter 4, Rabbi Luft addresses "The Influence of Music On The Body."

He quotes the Maharsha's gloss on the Gemara in Berachos [57B] who explains that music [lit. "kol" or sound] calms a person, removing worries. He also cites the Malbim [Shmuel I, 16:14] that music has the power to heal depression.

These sources are notable because they do not provide any support for Rabbi Luft's thesis. They appear to be there just to up the scant number of Torah citations in this book.

On the negative effects of music, Rabbi Luft resorts to junk science and distortions. Here's a quote:
On the other hand, it has been found that wild noisy rock music has a serious influence on the heart-beat and its constant heavy rhythms have been found to change the heart to beat in accordance with the rock beat. This is the reason why many rock musicians die from heart attacks in their forties. Rock music has also been found to cause high blood pressure and also affects digestion [this can be felt at weddings where the bands play loud wild music, besides the pain to the ears, pressure can also be felt in the heart and stomach].
Really? Rock musicians die in their forties due to merely to playing this music? Mick Jagger yochiach!

Rabbi Luft then quotes "former rock guitarist Bob Larson" who "in conjunction with a physician" describes the physical effects rock music has on the cerebral spinal fluid. The result: lacking enough blood sugar "ceases to function properly, causing moral inhibitions to either drop to a dangerous low or be wiped out altogether."

Apart from the absurdity of quoting an anonymous physician to give medical gravitas, this quote is also not relevant, as "former rock guitarist Bob Larson" himself has withdrawn these claims. In fact, Larson, a televangelist, has recanted his earlier views of rock and roll entirely and has even embraced "Heavy Metal" Christian music as appropriate. It is disingenuous for Rabbi Luft to quote Larson, when he renounced his thesis around thirty years ago, in the early eighties. You can find more about Bob Larson here.

Rabbi Luft then deploys another bit of "scientific evidence" to prove his point. This section is titled "The Influence On Plants" and features a description of experiments conducted by Mrs. Dorothy Retallack, wherein she "demonstrates" the effects of different music on household plants. Naturally, she found that rock music kills plants. Also, naturally, there is no documentation to back up her assertion. And, she appears to have had no scientific background whatsoever. Oh, and actual scientific research appears to have found the exact opposite result. The Straight Dope addresses her "findings":
"More recent work by four University of North Carolina scientists casts doubt on Mrs. Retallack's hypothesis. Their research indicates that 100 to 110 decibel noise (the equivalent of standing 100 feet from a 727 jet) will cause 100 percent more turnip seeds to germinate in 10 percent less time than with a control group. This suggests, of course, that a healthy jolt of industrial-strength heavy metal may be just the thing to invigorate your rutabagas."
For a botany professor's take on the subject, here is ESCU Professor Ross Konig:
Plants have no ears to hear and no brain to process or develop musical taste or music any attempts to show relationships between music forms and growth or other responses have met with total failure in the hands of true scientists. This explains the lack of literature for you to read on the subject.

But what about those few articles and books that do make such claims?
Yes there are some quack "scientists" who have claimed that (in highly flawed experiments) certain kinds of music caused improvements in plant growth...but no such claims have met the rigor demanded for publication in respected journals. Such projects are often labeled "pseudoscience" because they fail to explain the control of critical variables, nor do they specify replication levels, nor do they show actual data or the results of statistical testing.

There really is not much good information about the effect of music on plants because all attempts to do controlled studies on plants and music result in "no difference". Any "differences" between a music treatment and a no-music control (or other-music treatment) in pseudoscience studies can almost always be attributed to some difference in other variables in the project which have not been suitably controlled (light, water, fertilizer, soil type, humidity, etc.).
In other words, Rabbi Luft is clearly using "junk science" here. Neither Dorothy Retallack nor Dr. T.C. Singh, who he also quotes to similar effect, have published any documentation of controlled experimentation proving their claims, let alone subjected their "research" to peer review. And, the scientific community does not support their contentions.

Moreso, it is clear from his presentation that Rabbi Luft has no understanding of how scientific research is conducted. He seems to believe that every proposed theory fitting his world view is valid, irrespective of whether its proponent has provided legitimate evidence to that regard. That's not how scientific investigation works.

Junk science. Not exactly a compelling case for accepting Rabbi Luft's position.

Next up, Chapter 5: "The Influence On The Soul."

Here are my previous posts in this series:

In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part I
In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part II
"In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part III"
In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part IIIa
In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker"; Part IV
Blog in Dm: In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part V

UPDATE 2/1/09:
For your convenience, I have updated the posts in this series to include links to all of the posts on this topic.

Here are the links to all of the posts in this series:

In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part I
In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part II
In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part III
In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part IIIa
In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part IV
In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part V
In Review - Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part VI
In Review - R'; Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part VII
In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part VIII
In Review - R' Ephraim Luft's "The Torah Is Not Hefker" Part IX

From the mailbag...

Steve Schwab writes about a new Jewish Music venue he's curating in Brooklyn:
Jewish Music Sundays at Puppets Jazz Bar...481 5th Ave. Park Slope...Brooklyn,NY 11215 This is a weekly jam session /performance situation open to the community at large...There will be bands performing as well as a jam session...
He's looking for performers. It's a door gig. If you're interested, send me an email and I'll send you Steve's email address. (I'm not posting it for spam prevention purposes.)

He's also performing at the Jewish Music Cafe this Sat. night.He writes:
My performance is called...Jootsy Szaba aka Steve Schwab brings his quartet to the Jewish Music Cafe on Saturday night Dec.6...They will perform a very varied set of original songs on jewish themes...
401 9th st. between 6th and 7th aves. Park Slope
Anon forwards a link to a video of a news report on a fashion -show fundraiser organized by ex-Spice Boy, Shmuel, now Sam, who sis taking taking a new approach to music and production, Lehavdil!

Psachya writes:
So I'm playing at a yeshivish Bar Mitzvah the other day, and (as per a request), I launch into "Rabi Nachman", the song formerly known as "Numa Numa." I am approached by an earnest young bochur, and the following conversation ensues:

EYB: I'm sorry, you have to stop playing that song!
ME: Why?
EYB: My rebbi says it's ossur - it comes from goyishe music!
ME: OK - give me a second, and I'll switch to "Yidden".
EYB: Ummmm - OK!

Sorry - I just couldn't resist.

Michael Fish asks:
What is the Jewish tune that Avrumi Ackerman is referring to?
Guess it's not that popular!