Oy Korea
July 11, 2017 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Sure, you know your kimchi from your kasha varnishkes. Maybe you know your hanbok from your kopotes at 20 paces. But when it comes to music, how well can you tell: Korean or Hasidic?
posted by Mchelly (21 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I actually got them all right apart from the last one.. but this is something I've noticed! I even started a ytube Playlist of Israeli songs that sound like trot songs. I think it's because both draw heavily from folk melodies.

Music writer Frank Kogan had a theory about a continuum of music starting in central Europe/the middle east, and continuing eastward to Korea and Japan, that he called the "austral-romanian" empire, though that's a slightly different thing.
posted by subdee at 3:12 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I lived in Korea for two years, and only got 6 of them right. Fun.

There's Gangnam Style. Is there an Hasidic Equivalent? Monsey Style?
posted by john wilkins at 3:53 PM on July 11, 2017

I got three right. To be fair, though, the "Hasidic" samples are non-traditional tunes with non-traditional arrangements. I expect a similar criticism could be made of the Korean samples.

Coincidentally, yesterday marked the start of the Three Weeks during of Jewish mourning for the destruction of the Temple. One of the observances is abstaining from instrumental music, which is one of the reasons there are so many Jewish acapella groups. In fact, halacha (Jewish religious law) deprecates instrumental music generally. Music in pre-Exile Israel was strongly associated with the Temples; just think of the words to "By the Rivers of Babylon". Many other psalms even include musical notes for the Temple choirmaster. After the Destruction, instrumental music was banned as a perpetual sign of mourning. The prohibition got weaker over the centuries, but I think it explains why the Jewish instrumental music tradition is fractured and relatively weak: there wasn't the indigenous support that would allow Jewish musicians to maintain continuity. As a result, a lot of music created for Jewish audiences is actually non-Jewish music with a thin disguise. Anyway, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:16 PM on July 11, 2017 [9 favorites]

There's Gangnam Style. Is there an Hasidic Equivalent? Monsey Style?

Maybe this?
posted by Mchelly at 4:23 PM on July 11, 2017

> To be fair, though, the "Hasidic" samples are non-traditional tunes with non-traditional arrangements. I expect a similar criticism could be made of the Korean samples.

Kind of the opposite. The Korean songs were all trot, which is arguably South Korea's country music, and adheres to certain formal constraints in ways similar to how North American country music does, in the music and in the subject matter -- like American country music, there's a lot of women doing men wrong, the comforts of home, the perils of hard labor, living on the run, and so on, even if the music is different.

fwiw I got 6/10, and kind of annoyed about it since the correct answers always seemed obvious in hindsight.
posted by ardgedee at 4:35 PM on July 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

I suppose it's a testament to my Koreanness that I got all of them correct. Trot is a very trope-bound genre, so I was able to classify a sample as either trot or not trot, with the instrumental arrangement being a particular giveaway. Most of the trot samples were of very well-known trot songs - e.g. Hong Jin Young's 사랑의 배터리 "Battery of Love", Park Hyun-Bin's 샤방샤방 "Shabang Shabang". The songs from younger trot singers such as Hong and Park are readily recognized as being the same genre when compared to this medley from veteran trot singer Tae Jin-Ah.
posted by needled at 4:50 PM on July 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

As long as I'm linking to trot videos, here's Daesung from Big Bang with his solo trot song "Look At Me Gwi Sun".
posted by needled at 5:03 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I got 6/10. I am Chasidic, but I recognized a grand total of one of "our" songs; it was the only one older than 20 years.

I misidentified 3 that I suppose I should have known better as Korean, and one vice versa.
posted by mhz at 5:11 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Result: White-belt Rebbe (5/10)

Contemporary hasidic pop is just a total contradiction in the cosmos.
posted by sammyo at 6:03 PM on July 11, 2017

There's Gangnam Style. Is there an Hasidic Equivalent? Monsey Style?

It's pretty much this.

(though depending on who you ask the Na-Nachs aren't reeeeeally Hasidic)
posted by Itaxpica at 6:29 PM on July 11, 2017

Also, a place to add one of my favorite little tidbits. Adding to what Joe mentioned earlier about the loosely disguised pop music becoming suddenly Jewish pop.

This was not uncommon, but it was usually stuff that was (relative to the Jewish version) of a different time and place (older, sometimes European pop instead of American), and thus more obscure. These songs were mixed into albums with original compositions. The songs made from contemporary American pop were usually very upfront about it, and sold on essentially "parody" albums.

So anyway, there's this exception. Dedi. An Israeli singer who became popular when I was a kid. He covered songs that were far less obscure in our circles, so nobody was fooled about the composition. He credited, in his album notes, his version of Take My Breath Away as "traditional," which, ok, whatever. But this song is credited as a song from his father's home. ניגון מבית אבא/Niggun M'beit Abba
posted by mhz at 8:06 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd say Dedi is part of a long line of people doing this sort of thing, not an exception. Off the top of my head, MBD repurposed a song from Joseph and the Amazing Techinicolor Dreamcoat; Tzlil V'Zemer Boys Choir ripped off the Pet Shop Boys; the Piamentas' greatest hit came direct from Men at Work; the list goes on and on.
posted by Shmuel510 at 8:41 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

There's Gangnam Style. Is there an Hasidic Equivalent? Monsey Style?

Well, now that Gangnam Style is no longer the most-played video on YouTube and it's just some song, your guess is probably as close as anyone will get.
posted by Metro Gnome at 8:53 PM on July 11, 2017

I'd say Dedi is part of a long line of people doing this sort of thing, not an exception
Okay, fair enough. I do remember that to me and my friends, though, Dedi's songs (those two I mentioned) were songs that were recognizable to us in our relatively sheltered world. Actually, Piamenta's Asher Bara was too. But the vast majority were more obscure (again, to us). Anyway, I still thought Dedi's liner note was cute.
posted by mhz at 9:08 PM on July 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I only got 4 out of five right and I play Jewish traditional music for a living. The Hasidic community are the real torch bearers of the disco tradition. About 15 years ago a religious court in Brooklyn decided that people were spending to much money on extravagant weddings and put out a "cherem" (a ban) capping the number of musicians one could hire - just two - so DJs and singers with backing tracks became the main source of wedding music. The trend has been creeping worldwide - I had a Budapest Hasidic wedding gig cancelled because I won't play with less than four backing musicians.

The evolution of chintzy Hasidic music can be followed by the very tongue in cheek Evolution of Jewish Music video clip (from (from cantorical to Carlebach to the Piamenta Brothers to the NaNachs and Matisyahu )... the NaNachs are a rather new branch off the Breslov Hasidic tradition of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Think of them as the hare krishna hippies of Israeli hasidism. The NaNachs have adopted the O-zone tune "Numa Numa" as their main religious mantra as "Rabbi Nachman of Uman."

If you want to hear what is actually going on in New York Hasidic music listen to the amazing Lipa Schmeltzer, a Skverer hasid who has a big following and made silver yarmulkes for Obama and Michelle! Lipa's big hit "Gelt" retooled as a geico ad! Davening was never as funky as Mizrach! Lipa doing "badkhones" at a wedding .... Lipa and Avram Fried shilling for a kosher supermarket....
posted by zaelic at 5:48 AM on July 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

I don't know why this is a surprise to anyone. They're the Chosen people.
posted by anem0ne at 9:44 AM on July 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm with needled here--usually I could tell pretty quickly when it was Korean, since they sounded... I dunno. Brassier, in a way (not necessarily having actual brass).

While the trot style never really went away, it seems to be having a small resurgence in pop music. Outside of that, you'll definitely hear it (alongside sappy ballads) pretty much every weekend on broadcast karaoke-style shows.
posted by anem0ne at 9:54 AM on July 12, 2017

The contest offered to us is like one in which we had to differentiate pop from country. They are the same, now. So are these two alternatives. While the history is interesting, it all sounds like pop to me. (I still got 8/10 right.)
posted by kozad at 7:47 PM on July 12, 2017

To the extent that pop and country are similar, it's because they exist in the same culture and there's been a fair amount of crossover between the two. What makes this interesting is that these are two forms of music without direct contact (as far as I know).
posted by Shmuel510 at 11:24 AM on July 13, 2017

(Which is to say, you may be right about what the challenge is like, but that doesn't strike me as being the point of the exercise.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 11:25 AM on July 13, 2017

I didn't know I needed this in my life.
posted by starlybri at 5:14 PM on July 14, 2017

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