Abstract: Although it claims little historical connection to klezmer music or Yiddish culture, the city of Berlin has hosted one of the most dynamic klezmer scenes of the past 20 years. This article analyses ways that place has been made to function as a meaningful unit in the music and lyrics of several artists living and working in Berlin, localising the transnational klezmer revival discourse by rooting the city in their music. Building on Adam Krims’ theory of ‘urban ethos’, I explore how the contemporary city is emplaced in its klezmer music, arguing that these processes of signification allow us to hear contrasting articulations of Berlin. The native Berliners ?Shmaltz! frame their city as an escapist gateway, the American songwriter Daniel Kahn sees a site of painfully unresolved history and the internationalist Knoblauch Klezmer band locate Berlin as an embodiment of playfully multilingual performativity.
Topics: Main Topic: Other, Jewish Music, Liturgy, Synagogues, Sephardi Jews, Ethnomusicology, Ethnography, Education, Jewish Revival
Abstract: 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.
Gypsy/Klezmer Dialectics: Jewish and Romani Traces and Erasures in Contemporary European World Music
Topics: Main Topic: Culture and Heritage, Klezmer, Jewish Music, Jewish Heritage, Multiculturalism, Globalisation, Memory
Abstract: As klezmer and Balkan Romani music have become popularised in Western Europe since 1989, an increasing number of performers in both of these genres are non-Roma and non-Jews. This holds especially true for the new performance complex Gypsy/klezmer that imputes connections between two of Europe's quintessential Others, and, in transforming their ethnic specificities into a generic hybridity, facilitates the appropriation of their cultural goods by outsiders. I interrogate this complex and its semiotic conflation of Jews (absent Others constituted historically as over-present) and Roma (too-present Others who are historically absent) in the current European political climate that is multiculturalist but increasingly xenophobic. I note that Gypsy/klezmer performers claim a double authenticity based on a kind of hybridity that validates appropriation. I argue that specificities of Romani and Jewish geography, history and musical style are erased precisely as the Gypsy/klezmer complex becomes more popular.