23 May 2013

Planet Hopping Week: Jerusalem: Ofri Eliaz

Continuing on our globe-trotting adventure, the fifth stop on our Planet Hopping Week is tricky, because this ancient culture has established communities in North Africa, the Balkans, Western Europe, and the USA. We are talking about Sephadi Jews. Sephardic refers to the descendants of Jewish settlers, originally from the Ottoman Empire, who lived in the Iberian Peninsula, in Spain and Portugal, until the Spanish Inquisition.

Our fifth artist is Ofri Eliaz. Her album Ya Salio De La Mar: Ladino Songs is sung in the Spanish dialect Ladino.

She writes:
In 1492 the Jews were expelled from Spain. They were forced to leave without their belongings, but they carried with them their heritage, their language (a dialect of Spanish called Ladino) and their love of music to their new homes. For centuries, the heartfelt and melodic music of the Sephardic Jews accompanied them all in the nations they settled, from North Africa to Balkans to Turkey, Greece, Italy and America to present-day in Israel. Those diverse influences are evidenced in their culture and music.

Wherever they settled- they established and lived in close-knit communities, maintaining their own customs and traditions. Music played a major part in their communal life and on special occasions -- days of sorrow or joy -- they sang the ballads handed down from generation to generation....

Most Sephardic Jews in the United States trace their heritage back to the lands of the former Ottoman Empire. The Sephardic musical heritage is most noted for its rich body of "Romansas" ( ballads), "Cantigas" ( folk songs), and "Endechas"( laments) in Ladino, may of which go back to Medieval and Renaissance Spain and are found in variants throughout the Hispanic world.

This vibrant Sephardic song culture has been passed down within communities throughout the Mediterranean, as well as in Israel and the Americas. While contemporary interpretations have tended to present it as "early music", Sephardic music actually belongs to the Middle Eastern musical sphere. Much of it utilizes the system "magams" or modes, common to Turkish, Arabic, Greek, Persian and other Mediterranean and near Eastern music. The instruments traditionally used to accompany Ladino singing (from Turkey and the Balkan) are typical of Ottoman Turkish popular music at the turn of the century, and include oud, kanun, tanbur, djumbush, dumbeg, tambourine, as well as other instruments.

Music License: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike
Artist Location: Jerusalem

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