The Rosh Hashanah Anthology

By Philip Goodman | Go to book overview

XIV
THE MUSIC OF THE ROSH HASHANAH LITURGY MAX WOHLBERG

The music of the synagogue comprises four distinct elements: 1) the cantillation system that governs the chanting of the various books of the Bible; 2) the musical modes in which larger sections of the service are recited; 3) the Misinai1 tunes applicable to specific texts of the liturgy; and 4) free recitatives and compositions (for solo, choir, and congregation) that may or may not be based on the above elements.

Thanks to a propitious tradition, melodic variations of these elements correspond to the various holidays and seasons. The specific holiday tunes enhance immeasurably the emotional experience and musical effectiveness of the synagogue service.

The general quality of the High Holy Days music reflects solemnity and hopeful determination. Its overall effect is forthright and impassioned rather than sad and despairing.

Rosh Hashanah is ushered in by the evening service sung to a robust major tune 2 in conjunction with traditional motifs also used elsewhere (example 1 *).

____________________
*
The musical examples follow this article.

-171-

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