Music

Judaism accords song and music much significance. One of the first mentions of song is the Song at the Sea, when the G‑d split the Sea of Reeds. Upon crossing it, the righteous women of Israel took up their tambourines and the children of Israel sang a prophetic song of joy and thanksgiving to G‑d. The Oral Tradition states that this is one of the Ten Songs of Prophecy, and the final such song will be the one that heralds the arrival of the Righteous Moshiach.

Through music you can attain joy and attachment to the Infinite One, Blessed be He.
-Rabbi Yisroël Baäl Shem Tov

In the times of King Saul, prophets would listen to music in preparation to receive Divine messages, and instrumental music performed by the Levites was a part of the holy service in the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem.

Later, chassidic stories tell of the immense spiritual power of song, especially in the context of a holy gathering known as a farbrengen. One poignant story tells of how the Alter Rebbe explained a difficult logical question just by singing a certain nigun, and another tells of how the Baal Shem Tov paused to listen to a Gentile's song, for when a man sings, he pours out his soul.

Listen. Meditate. And grow.

Note: Unfortunately, the musicianship of some of these pieces is not very good. If I am singing, it's my fault, and I apologize. If it is instrumental music, my computer is playing it, and I assure you that it would apologize if only it could.

Dveikus Nigunim

These moving, wordless melodies are traditional Lubavitch nigunim. They depict the struggle between the Good and Evil Inclinations and the longing for closeness to G‑d.

The term "Dveikus" means "cleaving." Once, in a Yeshivah, a mashpia told us that a dveikus nigun effects a connection. "A connection to what?" asked one of the students. Answered the mashpia, "If you think of a stick, you'll connect to a stick...."

  • Nigun Dveikus 1, recorded 2011 by Musashi
  • Mitteler Rebbe's Kapelye, recorded 2011 by Musashi

Klezmer

Although music in general has been a part of the Jewish people since time immemorial, the distinctive style known as Klezmer is believed to be a relatively recent development. It was created mostly in Eastern Europe, with strong influences from religious cantorial music from the synagogue, but also with some influence from the Gentile cultures it grew up amongst.

When the style was first born about two centuries ago, the instruments used were fairly simple. A section of violins usually carried the melody, with a drum or tambourine in the background. Guitar-like instruments and lap harps were also common. A crude xylophone called a "straw fidl" could be easily assembled by laying pre-cut blocks of wood on a bed of straw, hence its name.

Later, when the Russian government conscripted young Jewish men into the army, hoping to take them away from their traditions, the klezmorim were issued more complex instruments such as clarinets and trumpets. However, the characteristic "breaks," "laughs" and "schmears" from the old style remained, reminiscent of the voice of the synagogue cantor which they still emulated.

  • Sholom Aleichem, written 2008 by Musashi
    Though not of the classical Klezmer canon, this tune is written in an upbeat Klezmer style.

Orchestral

The soft crooning of a single voice or lively beat of a small band can aptly evoke feelings of brotherhood, love, and longing. However, when a scene on a grander, epic scale must be painted, nothing short of an orchestra will suffice.

  • Flight of the Prince, written 2007-2008 by Musashi
  • Exile: Elegy for the Promised Land, written 2008-2011 by Musashi