Let Jasmine Rain Down: Song and Remembrance Among Syrian Jews, Volume 1

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University of Chicago Press, Dec 1, 1998 - Music - 291 pages
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When Jews left Aleppo, Syria, in the early twentieth century and established communities abroad, they carried with them a repertory of songs (pizmonim) with sacred Hebrew texts set to melodies borrowed from the popular Middle Eastern Arab musical tradition. Let Jasmine Rain Down tells the story of the pizmonim as they have continued to be composed, performed, and transformed through the present day; it is thus an innovative ethnography of an important Judeo-Arabic musical tradition and a probing contribution to studies of the link between collective memory and popular culture.

Shelemay views the intersection of music, individual remembrances, and collective memory through the pizmonim. Reconstructing a century of pizmon history in America based on research in New York, Mexico, and Israel, she explains how verbal and musical memories are embedded in individual songs and how these songs perform both what has been remembered and what otherwise would have been forgotten. In confronting issues of identity and meaning in a postmodern world, Shelemay moves ethnomusicology into the domain of memory studies.

 

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About the author (1998)

Kay Kaufman Shelemay (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music at Harvard University and has taught at Columbia, NYU, and Wesleyan. A Fellow of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, she is a Past President of the Society for Ethnomusicology. She has received fellowships from numerous institutions, including the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Shelemay s research interests include musical ethnography, music and memory, and Ethiopian music and musicians in their North American diaspora. She is the author of nine books and editions, including Music, Ritual, and Falasha History, which won the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award and the Prize of the International Musicological Society. An outstanding teacher, Shelemay received an Award for Distinguished Teaching from the Columbia University School of General Studies in 1982, the Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize and the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize at Harvard in 2006, and, in 2014, the Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award at Harvard. In 2014, Shelemay was elected an Associate Fellow of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences.

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