Wednesday, November 02, 2005

On Weddings and Music

I was at a wedding last night where a young rabbi in our community got married. It was certainly a lively affair, with lots of music, dancing and food. I certainly enjoyed myself immensely and had a great time. (I also apologize if I stepped on any of my fellow bloggers' toes during the dancing.)

I found, however, some of the choices in music interesting. At different times during the affair, I heard Black Magic Woman and Hotel California. During the dance sets they played the Battle Hymn of the Republic and As The Army Goes Marching Along. Neither the bride nor groom, to the best of my knowledge were ever in the military. Maybe one of their parents? I've definitely never heard either song used during a dance set before. :)

It's interesting how music tends to "bleed" through cultures. After all, we have tunes that were once pop tunes that have been adapted into Jewish songs and seem to have lost their "unclean" status. I've heard people sing D'ror Yikra on Shabbos to Simon & Garfunkel's Scarbourough Fair. I'm not terribly big on music, but I'm sure people could point out many, many other examples.

While one of the secular songs was playing, I kind of wondered if the some of the elder yeshivish crowd would have a collective apoplexy if they knew what they were listening to.

The Wolf


Gil Student said...

El Caribe? We were at the same wedding and you didn't come over to say hello??? Or did you, and I just don't know your identity. I was at table 19.

I knew it had gone too far when the second dance started with La Bamba.

Gil Student said...

Or were you sitting next to me, you sly devil?

BrooklynWolf said...

Same wedding. :)

I saw you, of course. I was one of the many people that said hello to you during the evening. You just don't know who I am. :)

And I thought that was La Bamba as well, but then they segued into something Jewish.

The Wolf

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

In college i took a Musics of the World course, and for my final project presentation i gave a presentation on "Jewish Holiday Meal-Songs", i.e. zemiros and pizmonim.

One of the main points of my presentation was the oral nature of the musical culture; tunes enter into it, and once a few years go by, or the tune becomes popular and passed from person to person, no one has any idea who invented it or where the tune came from — it's all ya‘ni "halakha leMoshe miSinai".

That's why you have, as you mentioned, people who would never listen to Simon and Garfunkel or the Beach Boys use their tunes for zemiros.

I also talked about the power of culture, how Ashkenazim will affect a Sefardic-style pronunciation and intonation when singing songs that they think are Sefardic.

The Chainik Hocker said...

My brother, a letz gamur (but I love him anyway) once was ordered to daven for the amud one Friday night in Yeshiva.

So he sang Lecha Dodi to the tune of Mettalica's "Fade to Black".

The Rosh Yeshiva couldn't figure out why the entire bais medrash was giggling throughout davening, but he complimented my brother on his davening. He asked him where he heard that nigun.

"Oh" he said, "it's an old chasideshe nigun. I heard it from Rabbi Hetfield".

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

In Helmreich's book "The World of the Yeshiva" he mentiones bochurim who when caught with a Simon & Garfunkel tape (he did his research in the '70s) told the mashgiach that its a Jewish group called "Shimon & Garfinkel".

Anonymous said...

I've been referring to them like that for particular reason though.

YS said...

I've got better. In my Yeshiva one of the rabbonim, every year on Shabbos Zochor, would teach El Condor Pasa (S&G) as a niggun. As it was an Israeli Yeshiva most of the bouchrim didn't know what the tune was. Everyone would be singing and you could see the rabbonim and the Rosh Yeshiva smiling.

Nice Jewish Guy said...

I'm sure we have all heard the Hodu L'ashem Ki Tovs in Hallel sung to the tune of J. Geils Band's "Angel is a Centerfold".....

Na, na, na nanana....

Anonymous said...

I take it these people have no idea what the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic are, or where most of their imagery comes from?