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A Serbian Jewish Perspective on Media and Musical Transmission


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This study of the intersections of media and musical transmission spotlights the activities of Sephardic Jewish synagogue prayer leaders in Belgrade, Serbia. The essay traces the reconstruction of Jewish synagogue singing in the past 50 years and outlines motivations for utilising media as an addition to, or replacement for, person-to-person transmission. Music, as a crucial element of weekly synagogue services, played a significant role in the reconstruction of observance. By tracing the narrative of reconstruction, I demonstrate that the meeting of music and media is a dynamic nexus situated within social experience. It was not until the 1970s that a small group of people in Belgrade began a process of reconstructing religious Jewish observance after the near-extermination of local Jewish life between 1941 and 1942. From that time until the present, prayer leaders altered methods of musical transmission as a response to shifting political circumstances. By choice or necessity, print, audio and Internet-based media now play essential roles in teaching and learning Jewish synagogue singing in Belgrade and media-based methods of transmission have transcended person-to-person learning. Over the course of this narrative, I describe both how musicians perceive certain methods of learning as aids or hindrances, and those musical changes that resulted from transition in method.



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Link to article (paywalled), A Serbian Jewish Perspective on Media and Musical Transmission

Bibliographic Information

Wiens, Kathleen A Serbian Jewish Perspective on Media and Musical Transmission. Ethnomusicology Forum. 49-66.  https://archive.jpr.org.uk/10.1080/17411912.2013.875733