" Klezmer is an interpretation of art and life based not solely on Jewish folklore, but rather on a cosmopolitan divergence of musical genres" Giora Feidman 

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Klezmer Music Modes

How identify Jewish music or Klezmer


The modes (Shtayger) of the Klezmer music are the same used in the Askenazi Synagogue . That is to say that the recognizable Jewish character of melodic patterns is borrowed from the liturgic and hazzanut (cantor) modes. Each mode is the reflection of a mood and it is the changing intervals that defines the melodic motives.

To find the origins of the modes used in the cantorial singing we must refer to the aural tradition of the singing of the Levitical Choir in the Temple of Jerusalem.
There is 5 modes or scales some of them named after the synagogue mode name.


Major mode
Similar to the western music.
D E F# G A D B C# D
The major scale is not frequently used in klezmer music.

Minor, harmonic minor or natural minor.
The harmonic minor is generally adopted by klezmer musicians.

Ahava Raba
(Great Love or Abounding Love) (altered Phrygian according to Beregovski) Freygish harmonic minor centering on the dominant, with lowered second and raised third, creating an augmented second interval. Usually, pieces in ahava raba are written in the key of the subdominant minor. This is the most common mode used in Klezmer music and its Biblical origin is unquestionable (although Idelsohn point out that the Ahava Raba mode may be of tartar origin).The 7th can be a major or a minor second. Abounded love are the first words of the Shabbat Musaf Prayer.
D Eb F# G A Bb C(C#) D

(He Who Blessed)(altered Dorian according to Beregovski or Ukrainian mode according to Idelsohn) It is the raised 4th that gives to this mode its particular blend and it is commonly used in the doina.
D E F G# A B C D

Adonai Molokh
(The Lord Is King) (modified Mixolydian), or major with lowered seventh and, in the upper extension, lowered third.
Adonai Molokh, in Hebrew The Lord Is King is excerpt from the opening prayer of the Friday night Shabbat service.
(C#) D E F# G A B C D

The most used keys are C and D but the modes can start on any given notes as long as the intervals stays unchanged. It is important to understand that a mode is more than a scale, more than the 7 notes of the heptatonic system, because it entangles the way the notes making it up are used.





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Giora Feidman
"We have one Torah, one shofar, one flag, and the expression of all that is the nigun, any nigun. It's not a song, it's an energy which results from an interpretation of the faith."




"Long live Giora, his clarinet and his music! He builds bridges between generations, cultures and classes, and he does it with perfect artistry!" Leonard Bernstein