Traditional Jewish Music
January 7, 2004 8:37 PM   Subscribe

What is the type of traditional jewish music that uses clarinet-like instruments (and sometimes, violins, i think) called? An example of this music is heard in the "Snatch" soundtrack at the beginning of the movie, and this type of music is also often played in TV shows that focus on NY's Jewish quarter (Queens?) for their storylines.
posted by elphTeq to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I believe you're talking about Klezmer music. Oy vey!
posted by The Michael The at 8:40 PM on January 7, 2004

Also, Queens is an amazingly diverse borough. The most strongly Jewish area in Queens I know of is Flushing, but there are others, including Forest Hills (anyone else care to add to this?). At the same time, there are a number of generally non-Jewish neighborhoods in Queens, including Hollis and Jamaica (primarily African-American), Jackson Heights (South Asian), and Ozone Park (Italian and South Asian).

Other traditionally Jewish areas in NYC include the Lower East Side (Manhattan, diminishing greatly), Williamsburg (Brooklyn, also diminishing with the influx of hipsters, which the Williamsburg Jewish community is actively resisting), Crown Heights (Brooklyn), and Brighton Beach/Ocean Parkway (Brooklyn again). My bet is that if a show is focusing on NYC's Jewish community, it's somewhere in Brooklyn.
posted by The Michael The at 8:50 PM on January 7, 2004

TMT, what about us Bronxites? And it is usually klezmer or it's a bastardization of an old yiddish/russian folk melody (think fiddler on the roof) sometimes too.
posted by amberglow at 9:04 PM on January 7, 2004

Cheers for the keyword guys, as well as the lowdown on how incomprehensibly huge NY actually is (for this little aussie at least!).

If anybody needs me, I'll be down at the Klezmer Shack, gettin' my groove on :)
posted by elphTeq at 9:42 PM on January 7, 2004

For 'new klezmer,' check out the Klezmatics, "Jews with horns."
posted by carter at 6:51 AM on January 8, 2004

[More here]
posted by carter at 6:53 AM on January 8, 2004

Ahhh...yes. Klezmer. The "K" word. Dave Tarras called it "Dzewish music". Amongst Klezmer musicians the word is a bit debated: in yiddish Klezmer refers only to the musicians, who are more or less born into a caste of klezmorim. A lot of Jews in entertainment have names like Zimbalist (cimbalom player) Fiedler (fiddler) or Musikant, which have klezmer "yikhes" or family origins. In Romania - where a couple of old Jewish guys still play the fiddle - they don't really recognize the word klezmer as a Yiddish music term. The term would be "khassene musik" or "alte tants musik" (wedding music or old dance music.)

That said, my faves are still Brave Old World, or maybe Sruli and Lisa in New York for the real Brooklyn Hasidic roots sound. I'm Bronx born myself, not as many Hasids in the Bronx, but I heard a lot of Yiddish workers songs and Yiddish WWII Partizan songs when I was growing up.
posted by zaelic at 9:10 AM on January 8, 2004

I figured zaelic would show up here! If you are intrigued by the idea of a combination of klezmer and Ornette Coleman-style free jazz, I highly recommend John Zorn's Masada records; I never cared for his pre-Masada free-mishmosh records, but these blow me away. (I'd recommend starting with Aleph and/or Live in Jerusalem.)
posted by languagehat at 10:28 AM on January 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

second the recommendation for the Masada records.
posted by Vidiot at 10:39 AM on January 8, 2004

My apologies, amberglow. Bronx represent.
posted by The Michael The at 1:52 PM on January 8, 2004

Thanks for the info peoples! Can't wait to seriously sink my teeth in to this amazing music genre :)
posted by elphTeq at 2:07 PM on January 8, 2004

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