Wednesday, March 01, 2006

286. Esther

Purim, incredibly, is in less than two weeks. (I haven't recovered from Yom Kippur.) Last week I emailed the cantor to find out if I could once again chant chapter 6 of Megillat Esther, which I learned last year. Sure, he said--and do you want to do more? Well, why not. Esther trop, for some reason, seems easier than all the others, a mix of major and minor keys that's close to the cadences of speaking. Reading Esther feels like singing part of a comic opera, Broadway as channeled by the ancient rabbis (or at least their assistants who handled the musical part).

So tonight I started learning chapter 4, 17 verses. Three of them, sad ones about the weeping and wailing Jews in Shushan, are sung in a different trop--the melody of Eicha, Lamentations, which is read on Tisha b'Av, and which I do not yet know. Fortunately I have a CD of my Torah chanting teacher reading all of Esther (which I believe she learned when she was about 12), and so was able to match her phrases to the symbols for those three verses and understand what I was doing. In about a week I'll know it by heart; right now it's quite confusing.

I'm learning all the different kinds of trop, slowly but surely: so far, Torah, Haftarah, Esther, and the beginnings of Eicha. Still to go: the one that's used on three holidays, when we chant Kohelet (Ecclesiates, on Sukkot), Ruth (Shavuot), and Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs, Passover), as well as the High Holy Day Torah trop. Yes, there are an awful lot of melodies, inconveniently all set to the exact same notation. I figure I have about half a lifetime left to master everything, which should be long enough.

6 comments:

Regina Clare Jane said...

I would so love to hear you chant Torah someday, aa... then I could actually hear what you have been writing about for so long!

I am a little bummed that I will miss all the Purim festivities because of my trip, but I hope it all goes well for you!

alto artist said...

Thank you! And... take a look at this wonderful article on Beliefnet by a friend of mine, who converted to Judaism last year:

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/182/story_18258_1.html

and then click on the link to the right that says "In the Ashkenazic style."

--aa.

Regina Clare Jane said...

Thanks, aa, for the link. It is truly inspiring! I can only hope and pray that my experience in converting to Judaism is just as rewarding and beautiful as your friend's... from the way things are going, I know I am headed in that direction!

alto artist said...

I know it will be, I have no doubt. (And...the other, main reason I sent that link, and I guess I was a little too oblique there, was that the chanter is me!)

Shabbat Shalom,

--aa.

Regina Clare Jane said...

Omigosh, aa... I wasn't able to listen to the audio portion of that link because I was at work, but I just did and you have such a beautiful voice! When I heard that, it sounded to me as if you were chanting Torah for all of us. Your voice seems to include the voices or timbres of many different voices. I'm not explaining myself very well here, but I hope you get what I mean.
Will you do anymore recordings of your chanting Torah?

alto artist said...

That is just about the nicest compliment I've ever received--thank you so much! I have no plans to record anything else, but one never knows...

--aa.