Jewish cantorial music now and in the future
I am starting this dissertation by expressing my attitude to the Creator, the One who "endows man with wisdom" Who granted and is still granting me the strength, inspiration and ability to engage in "prayer innovations." But not only this, I feel that I am imbued "from above" with the drive, the will and the idea that I have been entrusted with this mission for the sake of Heaven and not for the sake of compensation (because there is no monetary gain from this, but rather conversely...).
During my life I wrote a large number of compositions, prayers and recitatives, some of them intricate, trilled and not too easy to implement. However, during the last 15-20 years I started thinking, and surely all this is from Above, that I should find the bottom line, and make some "order" in prayers. This is so since "for the trees, one does not see the forest"...
No doubt that this course of events was brought about by the unfortunated fact that during the last years the congregants started getting tired and lose patience with the heavy cantorial renditions: this they are willing to hear only in concert halls... whereas in the synagogue they prefer "chassidic melodies" or/and the "Carlebach" style or the "Bnei Akiva style". Thus, traditional cantorial music that was transmitted from generation to generation is unfortunately fading out and being forgotten. And where are the good days of cantorial music?
In the course of my life I read and perused dozens of cantorial music works that were composed by the major and great cantors of the previous generations and found that they lack the desired precision, starting with problems of grammar, through lack of logic in grammar patterns and ending with incorrect interpretation of the content and unnecessary repetition of words. G-d forbid, I have no complaint of any kind against them; on the contrary, I honor and value the owrk of each cantor. All I am saying is that they were good and successful in their times, but had they lived our time, I am positive that would have arrived to the same conclusion as I did.
I hope and pray that the current cantors and cantorial music teahers will accept with understanding the "prayer innovations" in this book; and if this appears to them at first sight as easy and too simple, they should take into account the great Talmudic rule, "Its strength is in its simplicity." I also wish to add tham more wisdom and effort and thinking time is needed to abbreviate than to expand. As that great orator expressed himself, "A five minute speech takes me at least half a day, whereas a two hour speech I prepare in five minutes..."
I wish to express my thanks to my friend, Mr. Joseph Marton for his nice work in drawing the notes by computer. Many times I was assisted by his knowledge of the subject.
I pray and ask of the Creator that He should continue granting me health, strength and willpower to complete this project what will end, with Heavenly assistance, in the N'eilah prayer of Yom Kippur - Amen,
Cantor Eliyahu Greenblatt