Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hasidic Rabbis, Indian Jews, and The Manic Frum Music Report

My latest column on Nextbook: Rabbi Raz Hartman and the songs of the Bnei Menashe tribe of Southeast India.

rabbi raz hartman's shuvaThree minutes is about the length of my attention span—and the average pop song—and within its limits I have come to expect a dance party, a manic heavy-metal freakout, or an angry but ultimately hopeful statement about love. I could never be a product of the classical era. I need pop music. But there are some experiences that can't be captured in a bite-size musical nugget.

Raz Hartman writes songs that, in length and in musical theme, straddle the division between classical, pop, and religious music. I wouldn’t call it music to meditate to, but that’s only because the term has come to mean music to fall asleep to. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Hartman’s spiritual inspiration, said other people tell stories to put themselves to sleep—Jews tell stories to wake themselves up. And Hartman's second album, Shuva (his second) is definitely music to wake up to.


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