Music in Sephardi Jewish Culture

Syllabus for a seminar at UCLA, 1998/9  by Prof. Edwin Seroussi

Content and format of the course

Music is one of the major venues of Sephardi cultural expression. Therefore an understanding of the uses, functions and meanings of music in the Sephardi societies in exile may add new dimensions in the critical examination of the Sephardi phenomenon. Moreover, music plays a interesting role in the construction of a Sephardi historical memory and narrative in the twentieth century.

The course will start with the definition of the concept of “music” itself in Jewish culture and the inextricable relation between music and its cultural and performance contexts. It will continue with an overview of genres defined according to several criteria, such as time, space, gender and structure. Also the roles of  Sephardi and non-Sephardi individuals who were involved in the preservation, publication and performance of their music will be discussed.

The lectures are intensively illustrated by recorded examples which will be discussed and analyzed in class. The course is intended for graduate students in Jewish studies, folklore and ethnomusicology.

Selected topics to be treated during the course

The culture of the Sephardi Jewish Diaspora: Overview
Judeo-Spanish language: Development and main features
The Jewish liturgy: Texts, structures, performances
“Sound” and “music” in the performance of the liturgy
Rabbinical opinions on music
Sephardi Jews in the art music traditions of North Africa and the Ottoman Empire
Music traditions of the Sephardi Jews in the United States
The invention of the “Sephardi folk song” in the 20th century
Music and the contemporary Sephardi “self”
Selected readings

Adler, Israel. 1974. Musical Life and Traditions of the Portuguese Jewish Community of Amsterdam in the XVIIIth Century. Jerusalem. (Yuval Monograph Series 1)

Alexander, Tamar, Frank Alvarez-Pereyre, Isaac Benabú, Iacob Ghelman, Ora Schwarzbald and Ssusana Weich-Shahak. 1994.  Towards a Typology of the Judeo-Spanish Folksong, Gerineldo and the Romance Model, Yuval 6.

Avenary, Hanoch. 1968. The Foreign Song as a Source of Inspiration in R. Israel Najara’s Poetry, Proceedings of the Fourth World Congress of Jewish Studies, vol. II, pp. 383-384.
-----. 1972. Music, Encyclopaedia Judaica 12, 554-678.
-----. 1986. Persistence and Transformation of a Sephardi Penitential Hymn, Yuval 5, pp. 181-232.

Bohlman, Philip. 1988. The Study of Folk Music in the Modern World. Bloomington and Indianapolis.

Cohen, Boaz. 1935. The Responsusm of Maimonides Concerning Music. Jewish Music Journal 2, no. 2, pp. 1-7.
Cohen, Judith. 1989. The Impact of Mass Media and Acculturation on the Judeo-Spanish Song Tradition in Montreal, in: World Music, Politics and Social Change, ed. Simon Frith. Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 90-97.
-----. 1990. Musical Bridges, The Contrafact Tradition in Judeo-Spanish Songs. in: Cultural Marginality in the Western Mediterranean, eds. F. Gerson and A. Percival. Toronto, pp. 121-127.

Davis, Ruth. Songs of the Jews on the Island of Djerba. A Comparisson between Two Surveys: Hara Sghira (1929) and Hara Kebira (1978), Musica Judaica 7, no. 1, pp. 23-33.

Díaz-Mas, Paloma. 1992. Sephardim: The Jews from Spain, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Etzion, Judith and Susana Weich-Shahak. 1988. The Spanish and the Sephardic Romances, Musical Links, Ethnomusicology, 32, no. 2, pp. 1-37.
-----. 1988a. The Music of the Judeo-Spanish Romancero: Stylistic Features, Anuario Musical 43, pp. 221-250.

Flender, Reinhard. 1993. Hebrew Psalmody. Jerusalem: The Hebrew University (Yuval Monograph Series 9).

Harrán, Don. 1987. Salomone Rossi: Jewish Musician in Renaissance Italy, Acta Musicologica 59/1, pp. 46-64.

Idelsohn A. Z. 1929. Jewish Music in its Historical Development, New York.

Katz, Israel J. 1972/5. Judeo-Spanish Traditional Ballads from Jerusalem, An Ethnomusicological Study, 2 vols., New York, 1972 and 1975.
-----. 1980. Stylized Performances of a Traditional Judeo-Spanish Ballad, La mujer engañada, Studies in Jewish Folklore, ed. Frank Talmage. Cambridge, Mass, pp. 181-200.
-----. 1982. The ‘Myth’ of the Sephardic Musical Legacy from Spain, Proceedings of the Fifth World Congress of Jewish Studies, IV. Jerusalem, pp. 237-243.
-----. 1982a. The Musical Legacy of the Judeo-Spanish Romancero, Hispania Judaica, Studies in the History, Language and Literature of the Jews in the Hispanic World, II, Literature, eds. J. Solá-Sole, Armistead, S. G. and J. H. Silverman. Barcelona, Puvill, pp. 45-58.
-----. 1986. ‘Contrafacta’ and the Judeo-Spanish Romancero, A Musicological View", Hispanic Studies in Honor of J. H. Silverman, ed. J.V. Recapito. Newark, Del., Juán de la Cuesta, pp. 169-187.
-----. 1992. The Music of Sephardic Spain: An Exploratory View, Musical Repercutions of 1492: Encounters in Text and Performance, ed. Carol E. Robertson. Washington and London, pp. 101-128.
-----. 1993. The Sacred and Secular Musical Traditions of the Sephardic Jews in the United States, Sephardim in the Americas: Studies in Culture and History, ed. Martin A. Cohen and Abraham J. Peck. Tuscaloosa and London. pp. 331-356.

Katz, Ruth. 1968. The Singing of Baqqashot by Aleppo Jews, Acta Musicologica 40, pp. 65-85.

Kligman, Mark. 1994. Modes of Prayer: The Canonization of the Maqamat in the Prayers of the Syrian Jews in Brooklyn, New York. Proceedings of the Eleventh World Congress of Jewish Studies, Division D, Volume II. Jerusalem, pp. 259-266.

Lachmann, Robert. 1940. Jewish Music and Cantillation in the Island of Djerba. Jerusalem: Hebrew University.

Levi, Isaac. 1960-1984. Antología de la litúrgia judeo-española. 10 vols. Jerusalem: The Author.
-----. 1959-1973. Chants judeo-espagnoles, 4 vols. London: The World Sephardi Federation (vol. 1), Jerusalem: The Author (vols. 2-4).

Lópes Cardozo, Abraham. 1960. The Music of the Sephardim, The World of the Sephardim. New-York, pp. 37-71.

Petrovic, Ankica. 1982. Sacred Sephardi Chants in Bosnia, The World of Music 24, no. 3, pp. 35-48.
-----. 1994. Cultural Factors Affecting Changes in the Musical Expression of the Sephardic Jews of Yugoslavia, in: History and Creativity in the Sephardi and Oriental Communities ed. T. Alexander, A. Haim, G. Hasan-Rokem and E. Hazan. Jerusalem, pp. 273-284.

Roten, Herve, The Musical Liturgical Repertoire of the Jews of Bordeaux and Bayonne: Present State of Research, Proceedings of the Eleventh World Congress of Jewish Studies, Division D, Volume II. Jerusalem, pp. 243-250.

Seroussi, Edwin. 1986. Politics, Ethnic Identity and Music in the Singing of Bakkashot among Moroccan Jews in Israel, Asian Music 17, no. 2, pp. 32-45.
-----. 1989. Mizimrat Qedem, The Life and Music of R. Isaac Algazi from Turkey, Jerusalem, Renanot - Institute for Jewish Music.
-----. 1989-90. Written Evidence and Oral Tradition, The Singing of Hayom Harat Olam in Sephardi Synagogues, Musica Judaica 11, no. 1, pp. 1-26.
-----. 1990. The Growth of the Judeo-Spanish Folksong Repertory in the 20th Century, Proceedings of the Tenth World Congress of Jewish Studies, Division D, 2, pp. 173-180.
-----. 1990a. The Turkish Makam in the Musical Culture of the Ottoman Jews, Sources and Examples, Israel Studies in Musicology, 5, pp. 43-68.
-----. 1991. Between the Eastern and Western Mediterranean: Sephardic Music after the Expulsion from Spain and Portugal, Mediterranean Historical Review, 6/2 (1991), pp. 98-206.
-----. 1993. New Directions in the Music of the Sephardic Jews, Modern Jews and their Musical Agendas (Studies in Contemporary Jewry 9) ed. Ezra Mendelsohn. New York, Oxford, Jerusalem: The Hebrew University, Institute of Contemporary Jewry, pp. 61-77.
-----. 1995. Reconstructing Sephardi Music in the 20th Century: Isaac Levy and his Chants judeo-espagnols, The World of Music (Jewish Musical Culture - Past and Present) 37, no. 1, pp. 39-58.
-----. 1996. Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue Music in Nineteenth-century Reform Sources from Hamburg: Ancient Oral Tradition in the Dawn of Modernity. (Yuval Monograph Series 11). Jewish Music Research Centre, The Hebrew University.
Seroussi, Edwin and Susana Weich-Shahak. 1990-1. Judeo-Spanish Contrafacts and Musical Adaptations, The Oral Tradition, Orbis Musicae 10, pp. 164-194.

Shiloah, Amnon. 1978. The Symbolism of Music in the Kabbalistic Tradition, The World of Music 20, pp. 3, pp. 56-69.
-----. 1992. Jewish Musical Traditions, Detroit, Wayne State University Press.

Weich-Shahak, Susana. 1979-1980. The Wedding Songs of the Bulgarian Sephardi Jews, Orbis Musicae, 7, pp. 81-107.
-----. 1983. Childbirth Songs among the Sephardi Jews of Balkan Origin, Orbis Musicae 8, pp. 87-103.
-----. 1989. Judeo-Spanish Moroccan Songs for the Life Cycle. (Yuval Music Series 1). Jerusalem: The Hebrew University.
-----. 1994. Cumulative Songs in the Sephardic Oral Tradition, Proceedings of the Eleventh World Congress of Jewish Studies, Division D, Volume II. Jerusalem, pp. 235-242.