Wednesday, June 22, 2005

More reader email...

Here are some recent emails.

E writes that:
You'd have to have at least to categories - Jews who rip off the entertainment world and Jews who rip off other Jews!

Then even subdivide it for the self righteous who bash others but justify when they do it.
(this past years's HASC circus is a prime example of that illness).

Yitz writes:
Regarding your topic of "musical plagiarism," the following, although perhaps well-known, should be noted:

Firstly, unlike almost anyone else, both Modzitz and Carlebach rarely sang anything but their own niggunim. When they did so/ do so, they note this fact. Yes, Carlebach was known to sing some black American "spirituals", some niggunim of his talmidim as well as others that he wanted to promote, and of course, from earlier Chassidim, particularly Modzitz. Perhaps less known is that the Yiddish niggun "Gevalt sh' Brider" that he sang on an early recording was NOT his, but from Chassidim - some say Erlau. His early recordings were clearly influenced, in the main, by Modzitz.

The Baruch Keil Elyon of Modzitz that you refer to, was recorded by R. Ben Zion Shenker as "HaKol Yoducha." It was composed by a Chassid, R. Yechezkel of Tariv in 5680 [1920]. Apparently, it was intended for Baruch Keil Elyon, but when the song was heard in Yeshivos [R. Ben Zion attended Torah v'Daas], one of the middle parts was "adapted" so that it could be sung more easily.

Back to plagiarism: Chabad, with their shlichim world-wide, have often "adopted" niggunim of others for their own purposes. Unfortunately, it's rare that credit was given to the original composer. Some examples: "Hoshia es Amecha" was composed by Rav Avraham Twerski, who 'hung around' Crown Heights in the 1950's. "Yifrach b'Yamav Tzaddik" was taken from a Vishnitz "V'hayu Limshisa;" R. Shlomo's Carlebach's "Mkimi" became "We Want Moshiach Now," and his "Yismechu b'Malchus'cha" became "Ad Masai" to Chabad Chassidim. Most interestingly, their famous "Bcha Hashem Chasisi" was actually a mixture of a Bobov niggun [by the Rebbe Ben Zion], and the Modzitz "Kakasuv" sung at Melave Malka. I could go on & on here.

Two other notable thefts were the Pirchei grab at R. Shlomo Carlebach's "Eilecha" without ever giving him credit. Apparently, he refused to sing it for years after that. Also, MBD took Reb Shlomo's "Tov Lehodos" and put it out as "V'Chol Ma'aminim," again, without an ounce of credit.

Finally, perhaps you or one of your readers can identify the source of this niggun:

It is known as a Chabad Rikud [dance niggun], but some Modzitzers have told me that Rebbe Shaul of Modzitz composed it and "gave" it to Chabad when 770 opened. Others have heard it sung in the Kotzker Shtibel in Poland [pre-war]. Still others attribute to Karlin, and some, to early Chabad, perhaps even the Ba'al HaTanya. The composer of this niggun is not identified, neither in the original notes to the record, nor in the Chabad "Sefer HaNiggunim."

I could probably go on and on with this, but this is enough for now. Looking for any & all feedback.
Samuel Katz writes:
I'm sure I'm not the first person to raise this, but listen to the similarity between Carlebach's Kvakoras and the intro to Simon and Garfunkel's El Condor Pasa (which I guess is an old song, but I don't know whether Simon added that intro or not).
Judging by the numerous responses to the plagiarism posts, it's clearly time to play "Who Really Wrote That Song!" Send in your entries.