Friday, January 20, 2006

From the mailbag... TWEAKED

Got a number of responses to the Nigun Ratza Vashov aka Ya Ma Mai post including three transcriptions of the tune, only one of which I'd had before. Thanks Avremi and J. This brings the total number of transcriptions to five, excluding mine, and none of them are alike. One of them has a very different secong ending for the A section than the others. And yet, I've heard Chaim David play the song that way too.

It's hard to accurately distill a tune that is varied so greatly in performance into a concise lead sheet. I think the best way to go is to pick a recording of the song and transcribe that. The problem is that people who are used to another version will expect to hear those parts too. Personally, I like the original version linked to in my earlier post. But, that's not how it's most often played these days.

E writes:
the original sounds the best i have the tape and CD of HAYOM which has the original great recording of Nafsheinu and "Yamamai" (which i belive is the same version you linked to) the live Carlebach shul versions pale by comparison. Hayom was released in like 1996 and I have always said that by the time it took all those years for the songs to catch on it was so bastardized by the big orchestras that the original quality was gone - Neginah plays it regularly at simchas as the opener to the hora set.

BTW, at HASC 17 Ari Boiangiu added some new harmony to the song.
Yitz writes:
Regarding the chazanut article you linked [via the Town Crier] from Ha'aretz: I found it interesting, but this part was objectionable to me:

"In the synagogue," continues Malovany. "You can't just sing the prayers any way you feel. Although the cantor has the license to improvise within the original form, and it is even desirable that he do so, today people do whatever they want. Tunes that have nothing to do with the prayers have found their way into the synagogue, partly due to [the late Rabbi] Shlomo Carlebach - who truly was a great melodist, but he composed tunes for the prayers that had nothing to do with the original version. There is therefore a very tough war between those who preserve the form of the prayers, and those who take it lightly, `doing it their way,' and I view myself as a leader in that struggle."

I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS! What does he mean - "nothing to do with the original version"??? Reb Shlomo's melodies were very carefully set to the words that he used them for... Many of us have found it virtually amazing how well the tune fits - "like a glove" - to the words! And he wasn't "coming out of the blue" either. He based himself a long line of Chassidic tradition that he picked up in Modzitz, Bobov, and Lubavitch.

One wonders what "original version" was he referring to - his own???
When Chazzan Malovany refers to the “original version”, he’s referring to the modes or scales traditionally used for Nusach. His criticism isn’t that Shlomo’s melodies didn’t fit the words, but that they didn’t fit into the traditional modes. Although I don’t have a problem with the use of Shlomo’s nusach, I do understand where he is coming from. Shlomo’s nusach changes the scales used for tefilah and I can understand why someone with a strong sense of tradition wouldn’t be accepting of that break with centuries of tradition.

The Lipa Schmeltzer and Rabbi Nosson Slifkin post also drew some responses with several bloggers linking to it (here's one) and some musicians expressing agreement in person.

I'd like to add one point. Honest criticism should always give one pause for reflection. A truth seeker will accept it from wherever it comes. (My Zaide was fond of explaining the juxtaposition of two pesukim in the Yom for Shabbos: "... bakomim alaei mereim tishmana oznai" and "tzadik katamar yifrach". He'd explain that one who accepted criticism even when it came from his enemies, and didn't ignore it because of it's source, was more likely to improve and become a tzadik.) However, when people aren't honest about their criticisms, asserting X when they mean Y, then it is virtually impossible to expect that the one being criticized will draw anything meaningful out of it. V'hameivin yavin!

Yonah forwards this link and writes:
this is pretty freaky and also really funny - and he does it with such hargasha! y'hey y'hey like you never imagined - turn it up and pass it on!!!!
"Max" forwards this link to an article about Yankee's organist Ed Alstrom. We mentioned Alstrom previously here.