Jewish Music

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bulletSephardic Melodies - This is a PDF of most of the pages from Sephardic Melodies, originally published in 1931, compiled by Emanuel Aguilar and The Rev. D.A. de Sola. It was assembled from material scanned by Olve Utne, with his permission, and which is found at the Hassafon site at http://hassafon.nvg.org/. This material is at the link provided: http://utne.nvg.org/j/shir/. This site provides extensive background on Norwegian Jewry whose roots are primarily Sephardic. The site has a great deal of additional material about the Sephardic community in Norway, about Sephardic practices in general and about Judaism and Jewish practices in a more general sense. There are some missing pages which will be scanned in as time permits. permits.
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Jewish Song Data Base - This is ZEMERL, the interactive database of Jewish song. Yiddish. Hebrew. Judeo-Spanish. You can find additional Sephardic songs with searches under Ladino or Sephardic. The site provides words and in most cases clips of the music so you can learn them. In many cases, the music is freely downloadable.

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Piyutim Data Base - This is a magnificent Israel based web site with Hebrew text of many piyutim from many different traditions. It includes playable (but not downloadable) renditions of all the piyutim on the site, frequently in multiple versions, frequently in versions from various traditions. Some of the site is in English, but much is unfortunately only available in Hebrew. It would be wonderful if there were translations into English, but just listening to the music is magnificent. It is better represented in Sephardi piyutim, but does have many Ashkenazi versions. If you have anything to send them (public domain of course), they are attempting to assemble a  complete a data base as possible of piyut texts and renditions.

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Sephardic Pizmon Project - The Sephardic Pizmonim Project was founded in September of 2002 to assure the preservation of traditional pizmonim among Syrian Sephardim. They are working on preservation of pizmonim, baqashot (Sabbath hymns), ta’amim (cantillations), and other oral traditions concerning the maqamot. For anyone with a public domain recording (or capable of creating one), they have a check list of pizmon for which they still need recordings.

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Maqam - Or maqamot in the plural. Middle Eastern music, whether Sephardi, Arabic, or Persian is based on musical modes called maqamot which vary from the traditional western 12 tone (octave + flats and sharps) scale. The Western scale provides for 12 tones separated by half tones. These maqamat scales include some intervals that are approximately quarter tones. To make matters even more confusing for the Western ear, there are a variety of maqamot with varying intervals. In the Sephardi world (see the Sephardi Pizmon Project above) different maqamot will be used for various Shabbatot across the year and there will be special maqamot for various holidays. While I have enough trouble singing in this style, a virtuoso Hazan will be able to vary the choice of maqam within one musical selection. In any case, this web site, Arab Maqam World, provides the best explanations and auditory examples of maqamot that I have ever seen.

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Hebrew Songs - A wide range of 3800 Jewish songs from many traditions, although they are stronger on those from the Ashkenazi world. Words are available in transliterated Hebrew and there are some in English as well. These songs are downloadable -- some appear to be within copyright periods, so check with them on anything more than limited "fair use." They also provide lings to the IsraeliDances.com dance database which provides choreography for many (but unfortunately not all) dances.

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The National Sound Archives - This project of the Jerusalem National University Library provides downloadable MP3 files of Jewish songs from many traditions, including liturgical pieces and nostalgic Hebrew songs from before the creation of Medinat Yisrael.

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Sephardic.com - Featuring some beautiful renditions of Egyptian hazzanut by Kiki Arochas, preserved on the Internet in his memory by his son.