chapter  6
16 Pages

Technology, the Sonic Object and the (Re)Construction of Yiddish Music

The preceding chapters explored the musical and discursive products of the encounters of American Yiddish musicians with two metaphorical ‘border regions’: one geographical – Central and Eastern Europe – and one cultural – the strictly Orthodox Hasidic community.1 This chapter considers a third form of musical encounter, one particularly spurred by new music technologies: the encounter of contemporary musicians with the recorded Yiddish past. The fusion of ‘past’ Yiddish materials with ‘contemporary’ musical idioms is hardly a new phenomenon: seven or eight decades previously, Yiddish songs, already read as symbols of an archaic culture, were arranged in American popular styles such as swing for radio broadcast.2 Nevertheless, during the first decade of the twenty-first century, newly available music technologies, coupled with reference to popular styles including hip hop, prompted a handful of Yiddish musicians to explore a relatively new arena of fusion, creating music that directly juxtaposes historical and contemporary recorded voices.