Thursday, October 30, 2008

2008 Jewish Music Awards - Blogger Version

A few readers emailed me about Kol Chai's 2008 awards, most of them voicing disappointment over the restricted nature of this award.

You will probably not believe in me, but I was planning to introduce something I dubbed "YK's Awards" before the Rosh Hashana but I felt it was the right thing at the wrong time - music awards in Elul didn't sound good.

My plan was to hold a vote of the Best Album, Best Song, Best Debut Singer, Best Composer, Best Producer and Best Arranger. Now that Kol Chai preceded me in this idea, I feel like just starting it anyways before is too late - vote in the boxes located at the top-right of this blog. Additionally, this can be the blog version of Kol Chai's vote - more interactive and more flexible. I now realize that the vote for composer/producer/arranger might be too much, so I didn't include it this time.

The vote is open until 12/31/08 11:00 PM. That gives you two months to vote, and I think that's the optimal time for a poll like this. If a new meaningful album comes out, I will add to the list.

Alongside with the reader's choice I will choose my own favorites and explain my choices, after the voting process ends. Right from the start I can say that I will disagree with many of you, but that's the beauty of polls, specially when the polls are about such a subjective topic - music.

I'm open to suggestions and I can add other songs or singers. Please only vote once. Spread the word!

UPDATE: Blogger wont let me add more options once the vote has started. Since I my list is short, I propose the following solution: email me or post a comment if your choice is not in the list and I will do the math when the poll closes. This way no one is left out.

UPDATE2: I'm putting together a poll for the "Best Arrangement of 2008", that is, not necessarily the best song of the year but the most amazing arrangement. So many songs have special arrangements but are not fit to be the best song of a year. Please send to me or post your picks and I will start the award next week.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Shofar

Few articles I've read are so clear, organized and insightful as "Exotic Shofars", written by Rabbi Natan Slifkin, who's also a blogger.
Through his great articles and books, the ZooRabbi has the unique talent of introducing us to the marvels of nature and the animal kingdom and once again, he delivers with this article about a musical instrument we grew up listening to - the Shofar.

Speaking about the Shofar, my Shul's Baal Tokea had a great deal of trouble with the sequence of Tekiot on Rosh Hashana and he eventually was forced to call another guy to get the job done. And he got stuck in the second-to-last blow, just before the Tekiah Gedolah. Tough luck.

This wasn't the first time I witnessed this situation. Years back the same happened with a very good Baal Tokeah back in my homeland. In fact, virtually every Baal Tokea has more than a few mistakes here and there and often times he will start the Tekios in one tone and suddenly jump to another in a desperate quest for a decent sound. Does the Shofar has musical tones? Is it possible to play real music with it, with different tones and everything? I thought not, after all the Shofar is just one of these wild things no one can control. All the Baal Tokea can do is blow and hope for the best.

Well, I was wrong. Turns out to be that one man has mastered this wild instrument and found a way to play real music with it. Introducing Shlomo Gronich, an Israeli songwriter and singer who uses the Shofar in many of his songs, with amazing results. I don't think he is his Shuls' Baal Tokea, but it would surely be cool to hear the Tekios from a guy who actually knows the instrument inside out.

For the Chabad fans, you will surely enjoy Gronich's rendition of Keili Ato, with the Shofar:


In this other clip, skip to 1:33 to hear some other Shofar tricks of Gronich:


Ksiva Vechatima Tova