135-volume collection of field recordings
July 28, 2019 8:43 PM   Subscribe

The renowned Yiddish song collector and performer Ruth Rubin wrote in her notebooks “[The Yiddish folk saying] ‘Tsu zingen un tsu zogn’ [To sing and to say]…derives from the time when the Jewish ‘Spielmänner’ (the Jewish minstrels of the Middle Ages) would recite their bardic tales set to a chant. In the Yiddish vernacular, it has come to mean a person who has a lot to complain about.” 

In 1947, she began documenting traditional Yiddish singers primarily in New York City and Montreal. Switching to magnetic tape in the 1950s (which, in addition to improving  audio fidelity, did away with the time restrictions of recording to disc), Rubin eventually amassed a collection of over 2,500 Yiddish folk songs. The collection is now available through the Ruth Rubin Legacy online exhibition of the Max and Frieda Weinstein Archive of Sound Recordings at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

The field recordings archive can be searched by geographical location, here are just three of the places listed: Toronto, Brooklyn , Bronx
posted by spamandkimchi (10 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Sent it to my mom - she will surely love it (she’s 90!). Thank you.
posted by growabrain at 9:49 PM on July 28, 2019

hot diggity damn-- i am so excited to explore this at length-- thank you, spamandkimchi!!
posted by seasparrow at 10:13 PM on July 28, 2019

This is interesting, thank you.
posted by unliteral at 10:30 PM on July 28, 2019

Remember when Metafilter meant "best of the Web"? This is what they were talking about. Thank you.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 6:11 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is wonderful. My parents had recordings by Martha Schlamme that I loved as a child. It is worth looking for her singing on youtube, Tum balalika for instance.
posted by Botanizer at 6:19 AM on July 29, 2019

Wish Lemurrhea had seen this, it was his jam. I remember him trying to get me into klezmer music while we lived together. It was a noble effort. Thanks for the post.
posted by LegallyBread at 6:29 AM on July 29, 2019

this is great, thanks!
posted by Busithoth at 6:58 AM on July 29, 2019

Oooh, looking forward to diving into this in the studio. "Found" and traditional folk music is really great inspiration for my own music. Hopefully, there is a way to download some of these sources to play with once I've had a chance to listen and get a feel for the sounds and textures.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 9:09 AM on July 29, 2019

Related: Music Is The Most Beautiful Language In The World - a bunch of obscure London Yiddish / Klezmer recordings from similar period. Especially do not miss Max Bacon on beigels (and the correct Londoner pronunciation thereof...)
posted by motty at 6:10 PM on July 29, 2019

Great post. Haunting stuff.
posted by Lyme Drop at 10:52 PM on July 29, 2019

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