November 23, 2014 / 1st of Kislev, 5775
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            Day One:  God created day, night, heaven, evening, and morning.  Day Two:  earth, the seas, grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit trees.  And so it goes.  Day Three, Day Four, Day Five, and Day Six.  There’s no mention of what it was like for God to create these things.  Was it hard?   It doesn’t seem so. 

            Even these little blogs take weeks to write, and it takes me weeks to learn the music we sing in Koleinu.  I think about Osnat composing Sound the Great Shofar.  Surely, composers must struggle to create.  It wouldn’t be fair if they didn’t.

            “How do you do it?”  I asked her.  “Do you just hear the music in your head, and write down what you hear?”

            “There are ways,” she said.

            Maybe it was a naïve question.  How do I write?  Sometimes I hear the voice in my head, but sometimes I don’t, and I have to come up with ways to get myself to hear it. 

            “You must learn to hear the music,” Carol tells us. 

            “Know the music as well as you know Happy Birthday,” my voice teacher says.

            I read what’s on the page and try to hear what the notes sound like.  I go over the music, saying the words, clapping the rhythm, and then trying to put it all together. Practicing doesn’t feel like creating, but maybe it is.  Trying to understand the structure or building blocks of music is a way to get into the mind of the composer.

            How excited I was when I figured out, all by little old self, that each time the tka ha shofar godal theme comes back, it is a step higher.  Singing the theme higher is a way to build tension and excitement.  I was equally excited to figure out the way Osnat weaved sacred text with ordinary speech, mixing poetry with the every day.

            What does Osnat think when she hears us sing her music?  The notes on the page have no life without us.  Each time we sing, we are creating anew.  It’s hard and wonderful at the same time.  Miraculous.  I guess music wouldn’t be so satisfying if it wasn’t hard. 

            So, was it hard for God? 

--Penny Kohn

Koleinu-2
Sing with us! We rehearse Thursdays from September to June, 7:15-9:30 p.m., at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline

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