Rhythm and Blues
Hewbrew Music and Jewish Music
The development of Hebrew music and Jewish musicThe Jewish musical tradition is rooted in the Hebrew people's ancient origin in the Middle East. Thus, Hebrew music rose out of sacred music. In fact, the biblical psalms, written by Hebrew musicians and kings, were songs to be sung with musical accompaniment in the synagogue. This is echoed throughout the long history of the Jewish people, as sung prayers were commonplace in Hebrew music. Even in modern times one of the most popular Jewish performers is Shlomo Carlebach. His sacred Hebrew music songs are based in religious devotion and his lyrics draw heavily from the psalms.
Hebrew music in Europe and the United StatesAs the Jewish people migrated to Europe, isolated communities developed their own musical traditions, splintering Hebrew music into varying styles. Nowhere else is this as evident as in eastern Europe. It is here that traditional Jewish music melded with local folk music to create Klezmer music. Klezmer music originated in the 15th century as music for Jewish weddings and other celebrations, though it remains hugely popular to this day. Klezmer music was primarily instrumental, using violin, accordion, and clarinet to mimic the alternatingly joyous or sorrowful human voice in tradition synagogal song. When lyrics were sung they were usually in Yiddish or Hebrew. To most people today, klezmer is representative of Jewish music.
Many klezmer musicians, or Klezmorim, eventually immigrated to the United States, widening klezmer music's appeal in the early part of the 20th century. Early examples of klezmer musicians in the United States include David Tarras, Naftule Brandwein and Mickey Katz. These Jewish American immigrants proved immensely influential in the development of jazz music, even inspiring the introduction to George Gershwin's famous "Rhapsody in Blue." The rock era left klezmer largely forgotten. But the 1970s and onward welcomed a bit of a revival for klezmer and Jewish music. Groups like The Klezmatics, The Klezmorim and The Klezmer Conservatory Band branched out and incorporated other music styles such as cajun, jazz and even ska into traditional klezmer music.
As with klezmer in eastern Europe, Hebrew music from the Jews living in the Mediterranean region took on unique cultural traits. The resulting music called Sephardic music blended Spanish, Greek, and North African music with traditional Jewish music. Popular performers of sephardic music include Yasmin Levy and Rory Jagoda.
Similar to sephardic music is mizrahi music, a type of Hebrew music influenced by Arabic music. Mizrahi is considered by many to authentic Jewish music, since it recalls the instruments and arrangements of ancient Israel.
Recently the New York-based Matisyahu garnered much attention for his religious spin on reggae music. His popularity brings Jewish music and popular culture together as never before.
Hebrew Music and Jewish Music in IsraelJewish music has taken a unique turn in Israel with the rise of Israeli pop music. As with most ethnic music, many different styles are popular in Israel. Singer songwriters like Debbie Friedman and David Broza modeled themselves after American singers like Joan Baez or Bob Dylan. Mashina is one of Israel's most popular rock bands. Hip-hop has begun to make inroads into Israel with acts like the highly successful Subliminal.
Popular Hewbrew Artists