Conference Proceeding: Mizrahi and Judeo Arabic Traditional Music

This presentation will showcase the liturgy of Babylonian Jews through some well-known poems and liturgical works, as well as some which were handed from generation to generation in close circles of cantors and mystics. The rich musical tradition of Babylonian Jews includes hundreds of poems as well as tropes and tunes for prayers, scriptures, and sacred texts such as the Mishnah and the Zohar. The musical influence of the surrounding cultures, which is still traceable to the trained ear, encompasses Arabic, Turkish, and Kurdish traditions. Jewish Babylonian music is generally soulful and at times even mournful, echoing the famous verse in Psalms, “On the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and cried, as we remembered Zion.” However, there is no lack of joyous, fast-paced songs which were sung in life cycle celebrations and pilgrimage caravans, often accompanied by excited ululations and distribution of candies. The presentation will also address the revival of the Sephardi and Mizrahi liturgy in Israel today.