The year 1992 marked the quincentennial of the expulsion of the Jewish people from Spain. The world paid tribute to the Sefaradim (Hebrew, Jews of Spanish origin), those silent wanderers who, expelled from their land, held tightly to their cultural heritage, disregarding the many adverse circumstances that befell them along the way.
Excerpt from the foreword of Sephardic songs for all
The year 1992 marked the quincentennial of the expulsion of the Jewish people from Spain. The world paid tribute to the Sefaradim (Hebrew, Jews of Spanish origin), those silent wanderers who, expelled from their land, held tightly to their cultural heritage, disregarding the many adverse circumstances that befell them along the way. The commemorations of 1992 gave impetus to a reawakening of the interest by international Jewry for the Sephardic culture. Sephardic songs for all is a modest contribution geared towards satisfying and stimulating that interest.
Purpose and methodology
This songbook is not a musicological work in the strictest sense of the word. It provides amateurs and professionals alike with songs that everyone can sing. With this objective in mind, I have included selections with a short, melodic range and simple rhythmical patterns. Since this work is aimed towards Westerners, microtonal intervals, especially common in Oriental music, have been avoided. Also, I tried to simplify embellishments wherever they were not an intrinsic part of the melody in question. The metronomic and expression markings are optional. They have been added to help the reader get a better feel for the nature of the songs.
Sephardic music was conceived to be performed a capella, that is, without instrumental accompaniment. Yet, chords have been included here for rehearsal purposes or in case accompaniment is desired. Percussion is strongly encouraged. While this songbook does not include any rhythmical motifs, ideas can be obtained from the accompanying CD.
The Hazzan will find melodies that he/she can introduce during religious services and that are, by and large, eminently participatory. Music teachers may be interested in Judeo-Spanish songs to enhance their repertoire for Shabbat or other significant events, such as commemorations of the Shoa. Musicians of all backgrounds will be exposed to melodies of rare beauty and exciting rhythms that are largely unknown to the outside world and can be arranged successfully for a variety of musical ensembles. The refrains of all songs are indicated in a different font so that even the youngest can participate. Since some of the melodies can be sung to a different text, I have noted them with their counterparts in the table of contents. Hence, a song that shares a common melody is written in italics to the side of a song that was originally composed to that tune.
Translations and explanations
A short explanation of each song precedes the musical manuscripts. A more comprehensive version of the lyrics is provided at the end of the songbook. Complete Hebrew and Ladino texts are also included. However, due to space and layout limitations, shortened versions of lengthier texts were sometimes necessary. For example, the Sephardic versions of “Adon ’Olam” and “Igdal” substitute words or include extra verses not found among Ashkenazic sources.
Oral tradition is the main vehicle for the dissemination of the Judeo-Spanish repertoire. This process has contributed to disparities in the outcome of the texts. Therefore, we find many versions of a particular poem. Frequently, the content of the different stanzas do not follow the main theme of the text. They are, rather, individual couplets often borrowed from another song. We have provided the most complete versions at our disposal but because of the length of some of the ballads and/or the numerous versions in existence, we chose to print those that are the best known among the Sefardim.
Sephardic songs for all is a cross section of the rich repertoire to which I have been exposed since my childhood at family reunions and through commercial recordings. Most of the Moroccan and Iraqi liturgical examples follow the versions of Rabbi M. Edery and Hazzan G. Mordecai. Other selections are first hand notations from various informants living in Argentina, the United States, Canada and Israel who shared with me their musical traditions.
While working on the lyrics and the musical transcriptions, I have consulted the Antología de Liturgia Judeo-España and Chants Judeo-Espagnols by I. Levy, El Legado Sefaradí by W. Samelson, Chants Séphardis by L. Algazil, Coplas Sefardies by A. Hemsi, Romances de Tetuán by A. de Larrea Palacín, 40 Canciones Sefardís by M. García Morante and Sephardic Songs of Praise by A. Lopez Cardozo, among other sources. For those readers interested in further exploring the Sephardic repertoire, a complete biography as well as suggested reading list is included at the end of the book.
MezzoSoprano, Piano, Piano arrangements
Hazzan Raphael Frieder
Director, Voice, Guitar, Vocal and Instrumental arrangements
||Gizmo Recording Company and Hyperstudio
||Gantt Mann Kushner & Ramón Tasat
|Digital editing & mastering:
||Bill Wolf at Wolf Productions Inc.
||Bussolati Associates Inc. & Robert B. Lovato
||Sound Recorders Inc., Austin, Texas