It Began with the Words: Relating Text and Music in the Experience and Performance of Jewish Music

Pagliaro, Ben
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University of Delaware
The words of the Torah (the Hebrew Bible) have markings below them, added by the Masoretes in the 8th century. These markings are musical symbols that accentuate and connect the words. Over time, cantors of the sacred text in different communities and geographical locations have developed a variety of musical interpretations of these musical symbols, such that no single or definitive interpretation exists. Given this variety of interpretation, what musical qualities of these cantillations, and later musical settings of these same texts, allow the music to be identified as Jewish? Further, what are the qualities of a Jewish performance of the text? This thesis aims to relate disparate musical settings and performances of particular texts to one another in relation to the symbols in the Torah in order to better understand the complex relationships of text, music, performance, and community that are enacted through performance of each musical work.
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION::Aesthetic subjects::Music , Music Theory