The Second Half-Century of Sephardic Recordings Notes

(1) Algazi, 1958; Levy, 1959,

(2) While Bagby's article covers Medieval music, not Sephardic, other quotes strike home, too. "The constant recycling of these repertoires has inspired much copying by less experienced performers", creating a "perverse 'oral tradition'". Bagby, 2008

(3) Cohen, 1998. Professor Kay Kaufman Shelemay offers up a similar view, "Hence, just as scholars were beginning to understand better the complexity of its transmission, Sephardic song began to be increasingly associated with its 15th-century Spanish roots, both within the Jewish community and to a wider public.  Shelemay, 1995.

(4) Posting on Feb 17, 1995, 7:39 pm, to the group. The recording Cohen references is here. In a private email, Cohen elaborated, "What I was saying in that post, to use the categories you evoke, (Editor's note: alla Franka, or Western, versus alla Turka, or Eastern performing practices) is that we in Europe/America who attempt to perform such music are inevitably going to lean towards alla Franka styles because we are, frankly, Franks. So we need a healthy dose of alla Turka aesthetics - or, better still, friendly collaboration with some accomplished 'Turks' - to get just a little bit closer to some kind of convincing performance practice."

(5) Hester, private communication.

(6) Hester had met Dylan at Club 47 (later Passim) in Cambridge, MA after he importuned the club management to open for her. He met CBS producer John Hammond through her and was signed to the label. Sing Out!, 2008.

(7) Judith R. Cohen, private communication.

(8) For more on the Maftirim singers and repertory, see

(9) Cohen, 1999.

(10) Seroussi, 1993.

(11) Seroussi, 1995.

(12) For example, Conserved, a category that includes many Sephardic recordings: "(D)eliberate preservation of styles, edited and adapted for a new, external audience...the editing and adapt(ta)ion is usually done by outsiders, professional musicians with a Western musical education. Major examples of such music are traditional tunes with certain characteristics removed or modified in order to facilitate their performance by outsiders, who are unable to perform them in their original form. The modifications range from simplification to stylization; microtonality, a large part of the ornamentation, rhythmic freedom and complexity, as well as inherited vocal intonations, nasal and guttural emissions and pronunciations are neglected. The long individual improvisations are shortened...This process starts by the intentional simplifications in (transcriptions) of traditional tunes into Western notation to make them accessible to outsiders...and culminates in performances of these tunes from the simplified notated version.

Amnon Shiloah and Erik Cohen, 1983.

(13) This total does not include liturgical recordings.

Copyright 2008 - 2012, Joel Bresler
Support This Site!