Jewish Folk Music – The Klezmer

Folk music has a special place in the cultural heritage of a community, country, or small town. The essence of the music is unique to the culture of the area it originates from and influences by traditional instruments along with rich musical nuances. Jewish customs have a special place in history. From inventions to food, there is a prominent place for the Jewish traditions in them. In music as well, several Jewish bands have come to the forefront by playing the music that is unique to their culture. The instruments that are used can vary from traditional to more modern instruments which they blend together to make music. When looking at the folk perspective of Jewish music, the Klezmer is an interesting one that is worth deciphering. In Yiddish, the term Klezmer means a vessel of songs. The meaning can also be crunched up to suggest a musician or a music artist. What makes this style of music unique is that it is usually played by the Ashkenazy Jews. They play folk music only during celebrations, and this means weddings and other happy events.

Jewish Folk Music - The Klezmer
Jewish Folk Music – The Klezmer

Understanding the Klezmer

The main intention of this folk music is to be able to replicate sounds of crying, wailing, or laughing of humans. The sounds are usually reproduced by the violin and often sounds like the cantor. The cantor is what is used in the Jewish synagogues. Other instruments that are used in the klezmer folk music band are the cello, the fiddle, a drum and sometimes even a clarinet, Other instruments that might and might not be used are the accordion or the dulcimers.

The music itself comes from centuries ago. The Jewish tradition that has been passed down for hundreds of years is kept alive through this folk music type. There are nuances from European and other international cultures that are included in the Klezmer. French, Russian, gypsy and earliest forms of jazz can be identified in the tunes. However, while the other music types evolved and have similarities, the unique features of the Klezmer are what makes it special to the Jewish folk.

Dancing to the Tunes

The folk music is made for functions and celebrations that would involve some dancing and making merry. There are tempos and beats in the Klezmer that are perfect for dancing. The dance styles for the Klezmer is perfect for the Freylekhs, tango, sher, skotshne, Halaka, Khosidl, etc. The dancing that is accompanied to the music is very similar to that of square dancing that the Anglo folk enjoy. There are also some traditional waltzes that can accompany the music beautifully.

The life of the Klezmer was rather sad. The Jewish Holocaust successfully wiped out more than the Jewish traditions and people. It wiped out much of their music as well. When the old musicians were gone, the traditional folk music was not passed down effectively. Though there are a few musicians who still play the Klezmer, the conventional punch of the music isn’t there anymore. However, musicians and musicologists have strived hard over the last 100 years to bring back and revitalize the once captivating celebratory Klezmer.

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