Religions (Aug 2021)

Music, History, and Culture in Sephardi Jewish Prayer Chanting

  • Essica Marks

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 12, no. 9
p. 700


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This article presents the study of a Jewish liturgical genre that is performed in main sections of Jewish prayer services. This liturgical genre is called “prayer chanting”. The term refers to the musical performance by the cantor of the prose texts in Jewish prayer services. The genre of prayer chanting characterizes most Jewish liturgical traditions, and its central characteristic is a close attachment of the musical structure to the structure of the text. The article will examine musical, cultural, and historical characteristics of prayer chanting of two Sephardi Jewish traditions and will explain how this liturgical genre reflects historical and cultural features related to these liturgical traditions. The study presented here is based on field work that includes recordings of prayer and interviews of well-known cantors of the two traditions as well as observations in synagogue of the two liturgical traditions.