Song of Songs’ gets a musical treatment

By YONI COLLINS
December 31, 2013 05:05

Aryeh Naftaly, a veteran musician on the local scene, began the project four years ago, first investigating the basic syntax behind the ta’amim (notes).

2 minute read.



music

aryeh naftaly. (photo credit: J. Borodetzky)

‘Shir Hashirim” (Song of Songs) number one with a bullet? King Solomon’s more than 2,000-yearold love song has been arranged as a rock opera and released as a book with accompanying CD.

Aryeh Naftaly, a veteran musician on the local scene, began the project four years ago, first investigating the basic syntax behind the ta’amim (notes).

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Having organized the notes into 27 cards, Naftaly, a singer-songwriter best known for his work with the Jewish rock/Grateful Dead ensemble The Elevators, was able to apply it to other musical forms.

“I had in my hand the musical syntax of the ta’amim,” Naftaly told The Jerusalem Post.

Turning the dialogue of “Song of Songs” into a musical song was the first scripture that he decided to tackle.

“I wanted to find out what it was really about,” he explains.

Aside from the musical rendition of “Song of Songs,” Naftaly also wrote his own commentary entitled “The Song of Songs: A Messiah’s Confession,” which tells the background of the story recounted in the song.

“For people who are interested in musicology and the Bible and where they come together, it is a fascinating exploration,” he says.

A major part of this musical experiment was to be able to understand the music of biblical times. The instruments used to record the CD channel the sound of comparable instruments played during the period the original piece was written.

Being a songwriter who performs popular music, the project took Naftaly out of his musical comfort zone.

“It took me out of my forms,” he says, explaining his journey through writing the opera rendition.

Naftaly made aliya in the 1980s from San Francisco, California, after studying music there.

“In the States, Judaism is much more of a religion; here, it’s a way of life,” he says.

After living in Jerusalem, Naftaly and his wife moved to Moshav Mevo Modi’im, where Shlomo Carlebach invited Naftaly to play with his band, which he did until Carlebach’s death seven years later. Many of the musicians and singers on the recording of the musical are friends of Naftaly’s who live on the moshav.

Inspired by the music genres of the singer/songwriter and the soul music of the 1970s, Naftaly hopes that the “Song of Songs” music project will make its way to the stage. Meanwhile, he is working on his third album of original music with The Elevators.

The ‘Song of Songs’ CD and book are available online at http://www.thesongofsongs.net/.


Related Content

Sarah Silverman
August 26, 2014
Jewish women take home gold at 2014 Emmys

By JTA

Israel Weather
  • 6 - 17
    Beer Sheva
    9 - 18
    Tel Aviv - Yafo
  • 6 - 12
    Jerusalem
    8 - 16
    Haifa
  • 11 - 22
    Elat
    9 - 19
    Tiberias