Apr. 7th, 2007

rhu: (torah)
Today I had the opportunity to chant the second half of the Song of Songs for the congregation. It was my first time chanting one of the three "festive megillot" and it went pretty well. One congregant, whose opinion I value highly, complimented me afterwards on my "lyrical" rendition.

For those not familiar with Jewish cantilation practice, the text is marked up with neumes, each of which represents a musical figure. The exact notes that correspond to a given neume depends on what kind of text it is, what the occasion is, and where one's ancestors are from. But, like a "handwriting" font that attempts to make entire words by having letters whose edges line up, the neumes are supposed to be seamlessly stitched together to form a musical representation of the text. And, like that "handwriting" font, if you simply apply the notes mechanically you'll get something that is technically correct but ugly --- you need to modify the noteforms to account for the neumes preceding and following, the meaning of the text, and one's natural human variability. Only then do you get a proper cantilation, just as true handwriting is far more expressive than what a "handwriting font" can produce.

They switched books on me, though. I was expecting to read it out of the Koren Tanach, which has splendid, clear typography. But instead the fellow who read the first half was given a different Tanach, which has horrible typography. (I think it's inspired by the Simanim series but is actually put out by a different company.)

Details on why I really dislike that edition )

So it was stressful -- I kept feeling like I was fighting the book -- but apparently I was able to convey the beauty of this extraordinary text. It was a privilege to sing it. Perhaps I'll sign up to chant Ruth in six weeks and two days....
rhu: (torah)
Today I had the opportunity to chant the second half of the Song of Songs for the congregation. It was my first time chanting one of the three "festive megillot" and it went pretty well. One congregant, whose opinion I value highly, complimented me afterwards on my "lyrical" rendition.

For those not familiar with Jewish cantilation practice, the text is marked up with neumes, each of which represents a musical figure. The exact notes that correspond to a given neume depends on what kind of text it is, what the occasion is, and where one's ancestors are from. But, like a "handwriting" font that attempts to make entire words by having letters whose edges line up, the neumes are supposed to be seamlessly stitched together to form a musical representation of the text. And, like that "handwriting" font, if you simply apply the notes mechanically you'll get something that is technically correct but ugly --- you need to modify the noteforms to account for the neumes preceding and following, the meaning of the text, and one's natural human variability. Only then do you get a proper cantilation, just as true handwriting is far more expressive than what a "handwriting font" can produce.

They switched books on me, though. I was expecting to read it out of the Koren Tanach, which has splendid, clear typography. But instead the fellow who read the first half was given a different Tanach, which has horrible typography. (I think it's inspired by the Simanim series but is actually put out by a different company.)

Details on why I really dislike that edition )

So it was stressful -- I kept feeling like I was fighting the book -- but apparently I was able to convey the beauty of this extraordinary text. It was a privilege to sing it. Perhaps I'll sign up to chant Ruth in six weeks and two days....
rhu: (Default)
I don't usually enjoy wine, but today one of the couples we had over for lunch brought a bottle of Goose Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (2005) and it was quite enjoyable -- enough so that I'm blogging about it so I'll be able to look it up again if I ever go out to buy wine.
rhu: (Default)
I don't usually enjoy wine, but today one of the couples we had over for lunch brought a bottle of Goose Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (2005) and it was quite enjoyable -- enough so that I'm blogging about it so I'll be able to look it up again if I ever go out to buy wine.

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rhu: (Default)
Andrew M. Greene

January 2013

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