Sunday, October 12, 2008

From the mailbag...

Moshe writes:
By the way, my wife's secular cousin (who was seen having a great time dancing at our wedding) told us last week that the whole dancing with guys thing made him uncomfortable so it was a great idea to have a room for the guys to get together before the dancing started and get wasted.
So that's what the choson's tish is meant for!

A. writes about "New Wedding Takanos - Phase One",:
interesting Hamodia article. But has the wrapping become expensive? How? And poems (I would think) are free, so why ban them?
He also emails about the new RJJ Journal. One of the topics is :
Kol Sasson V'kol Simcha: Halachic Considerations of Loud Wedding Music by Jason DiPoce and R. Shalom Buchbinder -- Is the mitzvah of attending a wedding sufficient reason to go to a place where your hearing will be damaged?
I'd like to see this one.

Psachya writes:
I just did a gig last night with Matt Miller on drums. Bli ayin hara he looked great and sounded awesome. I know that people on this blog have been concerned about him, so I figured to go into the new year with a bit of good news.
Nice to hear.

Joe Flix comments on "Taking To The Dance Floor":
This is what we call Standing up to the bullies.

Soon word will go out, and this rude caterer will lose his good name and at least some business


(Wasn't Lipa at that wedding by chance??)
Nope, Lipa was not there.

Joe also forwards a link to his review of Sruly Werdiger's new album

PT writes:
I once had the power turned off by the principal of my kids' school when we played there for a simchas bais hashoava, (with Meyer Pasternak on sax). Apparently he was offended by our playing Piamenta's "siman tov" so he yanked us. I never played for the school again as long as he was Principal. I remember the night well. My second son was born later that evening, 17 years ago.
Turning off the power is simply offensive.

Anon. writes:
Why is a concert fundraising for an organization once again hiding itself? See the ambiguous language in the ad for the Achdut Concert and see the people behind it. (It's in the source code.)
Good question.

Finally, Zvi Lampert comments on Rabbi Luft's rules:
I took a look at these 'rules'. They are so ridiculous, I can't believe I'm actually taking the time to commit my thoughts about them to writing. I find this man's nebulous and arbitrary standards of decency and his level of general ignorance regarding music astounding. After reading his little manifesto, I don't know whether to laugh out loud or to hang myself out of sheer frustration.

Yes, the words of Jewish songs should be pronounced correctly, and yes, the music should be appropriate to the meaning of the words. This is where the coherence ends.

The use of swing? When did a triplet feel become vulgar? If anything, the application of 'swing' in Jewish music usually ends up sounding kind of corny, an effect that I would think fanatical ideologues like our author would find appealing.
Percussion is not allowed in slow music, neither are "2-4 beats and other rock and disco beats in the percussion" (rock and disco are in 4-4, but who's counting?). This pretty much rules out the possibility of drums in any dance music, which goes against what the Malbim allegedly says in footnote 3 (as soon as I can get my hands on a Malbim. I'll see what he actually says). So, no swing, no 2 beats or 4-4, what are we left with? That's right folks, WALTZES! Woo hoo! This man doesn't know a treble clef from a goose egg.

Which brings me to instrumentation.
Let me preface this by stating my belief the idea of a particular instrument being inherently good or evil is preposterous. Like anything else in the world, moral value lies not in the instrument itself, but in how it is used.

The saxophone was invented in 1841 and was originally designed for use in military bands or as an orchestral instrument. Its use eventually spread to all types of folk music including klezmer. The Saxophone was indeed dubbed the Devil's horn (not the Devil's flute, as he posits), and banned by fanatics in such illustrious institutions as the Catholic church, Bolsheviks and the Nazi party. Is this the company that this rabbi keeps? If we legitimize such sources, maybe we should also adopt the view that Jews use the blood of gentile children to make matzoh and wine, or that they control world banking. Incidentally, the violin was referred to as "the devil's instrument" by fanatics in the medieval priesthood.

Point of fact: distortion is almost never used on a bass guitar. Early rock n roll bands used acoustic upright basses, not electric bass guitars. Just watch any Elvis video. Pianos are also frequently featured in rock music. Should we ban those too?

The modern drum set was not created specifically for 'disrespectful music. It is comprised of the same drums as those used by traditional marching bands, only they're configured so that one person can play all the drums, rather than strapping individual drums to separate people, which is inefficient.

Finally, we have the ultimate self-contradiction.

Article 9 states: "When playing at simchos only the person who pays the musicians has the right to tell them what and how to play." Amen, brother! And what happens if the person paying wants rock 'n' roll, jazz or funk? Would you, Ephraim Luft, abide by your own rules and stay the hell out of it? I doubt it. I know your type. In 18 years of gigging, I've run into my fair share of self-riteous, ignorant blow-hards. They can't keep their mouths shut. Their sense of self worth depends on casting stones at others.

And so, with minimal research and even less coherence, this man took it upon himself to put forth himself and his rant as somehow being representative of rabbinic consensus, creating the sense that mainstream Orthodox Jews are ignorant and fanatical. Is he solely responsible for this Chillul Hashem? By not publishing their rebuttals with the same publicity, other Orthodox leaders are lending their tacit approval to this foolishness.

Ok, I feel better now.
We'll have more on Rabbi Luft soon. (Most likely after the chag). Also some CD reviews...