Some Insight On Klezmer Music


Derived from the Yiddish language, originally the word Klezmer meant ‘musician’. Inspired from the Yiddish art and traditions, Klezmer has come to characterize the style of secular music that’s played at joyful occasions such as weddings by the Jews in Eastern Europe who are called Ashkenazi.

The purpose of Klezmer music is to replicate the voice of humans, which includes the sound of laughing, crying and wailing. This imitation is usually done with the violin. Most of the time, a Klezmer band usually comprises of a drum, cello or bass, fiddle and clarinet. Some secondary instruments are also used, which include accordion and hammered dulcimers. Even though this particular music draws on the ancient traditions of the Jews, Klezmer music has also incorporated different sounds of music from international and European traditions.

This includes early jazz, French Café music, European folk music such as Russian music and Roma (gypsy) music. In various areas of Central and Eastern Europe, there was a different development of Klezmer music, which has led to the availability of some really exciting subgenres.

According to Israel Zohar, the beauty of this type of music is that it is primarily made for dancing. Set dances are the common dances that are intended to go along with Klezmer music, which are similar to contra or Anglo square dances. There are also numerous traditional polkas and waltzes associated with Klezmer music and some polkas and tangoes were picked by several musicians in later years that have remained an important part of the repertoire.

The tradition of Klezmer music was nearly decimated by the Holocaust just like various other aspects of the European Jewish culture. Because Klezmer is an aural tradition like most folk musics, the music died with the death of the old musicians. However, there were a few sparse survivors who aided in revitalizing the music and tireless efforts have been made by musicologists for recording their repertoires. 
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