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“Oy, tsum ban vel ikh nit geyn” and “Ven ikh volt geven a foygele” – Two Songs Performed by Tsunye Rymer

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2018 by yiddishsong

Oy, tsum ban vel ikh nit geyn and Ven ikh volt geven a foygele
Two songs combined and sung by Tsunye Rymer 
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, NYC 1985
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In this performance, Isaac “Tsunye” Rymer combines two distinct lyrical Yiddish love songs. The first two verses are a song beginning with the line Tsum ban vil ikh nit geyn [I don’t want to go to the train] and the third and fourth verses are a different song that begins with the line – Ven ikh volt geven a foygele [If I were a bird]. Whether he learned the songs this way or combined them himself is unknown.

Rymer says he learned this in Bessarabia on the way to America. It took him and his wife 4 years to arrive in the US once they left their town in the Ukraine.

RymerPhoto3Tsunye Rymer at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center, Bronx, NYC, 1980s. From right:  Jacob Gorelik, Dr. Jonas Gottesman, Tsunye Rymer. 

Ven ikh volt geven a foygele has motifs found in other Yiddish folksongs among them a Hasidic Lubavitch song attributed to Reb Mendele from Horodok called The Outpouring of the Soul  השתפכות הנפש, number 25 in the Lubavitch nigunim collection Sefer HaNigunim. One can also find these motifs in songs in the Beregovski/Slobin collection Old Jewish Folk Music and the I. L. Cahan collection Yidishe folkslider mit melodyes (1952)

Recently singer Inna Barmash recorded a song, accompanied by violist Ljova (Lev Zhurbin) with these motifs from the Beregovski/Slobin collection on her CD Yiddish Love Songs and Lullabies (2013).

Why the combination of songs? The singer (if not Rymer, then the one he learned it from?) perhaps added the third and fourth verses to add a little hopefulness and not end the song on such a bleak note.

TRANSLITERATION

Oy tsim ban vel ikh nit geyn,
oy tsim ban vel ikh nit geyn.
Oy ikh ken dus shoyn mer nit zeyn:
Az du vest darfn in poyez zitsn
un ikh vel blaybn af der platforme shteyn.
Az du vest darfn in poyez zitsn
un ikh vel blaybn af der ploshchatke shteyn.

Tsum ershtn mul a kling un tsum tsveytn mul a fayf
un tsum dritn mul iz shoyn nishtu keyn mentsh.
Ikh hob nit pospeyet di hant im derlangen.
Di ban iz shoyn avek fin undz gants vayt.
Ikh hob nit pospeyet di hant im derlangen.
Di ban iz shoyn avek fun undz gants vayt.

Ven ikh volt geveyn a foygele [feygele],
volt ikh tsu dir gefloygn.
in efsher volstu rakhmones gehat
oyf mayne farveynte oygn – oyf mayne farveynte oygn.

Ven ikh volt geveyn a fishele
volt ikh tsu dir geshvumen.
in efsher volstu rakhmones gehat
un du volst tsu mir gekumen.
un du volst tsu mir gekumen.

TRANSLATION

Oy to the train I will not go.
To the train I will not go.
I can’t stand to see this anymore:
you will be sitting on the train
and I will remain standing on the platform.

First the bell rings once; then the whistles blows;
then no one remains.
I did not even manage to give him my hand.
The train had gone by then quite far.

If I were a little bird,
I would fly to you.
And perhaps you would have pity on me
on my weeping eyes.

If I were a fish,
I would swim to you.
And perhaps you would have pity on me
and you would then come to me.

Rymer Oy1Rymer Oy2Rymer OY3

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“Yoyne-hanuvi” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2017 by yiddishsong

 

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

We are posting this recording of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman singing Yoyne-hanuvi (Jonah the Prophet) for Yom-Kippur since Maftir Yoyne, the Bible story of Jonah is read during the mincha (afternoon) service. The recording was made by Leybl Kahn in the Bronx in 1954. Two newer interpretations of this song based on LSW’s version have been recorded: the German/USA  group Myridian on their recording of 2004 and one by the singer Eleonore Biezunski and her group Yerushe on the CD Yerushe/Heritage in 2016 (you can hear part of the song at this link).

jonah_whale

This song might have had special meaning for LSW since her father was named “Yoyne.” He died of cholera in 1894 when she was one-year old. His grave is still to be found in the Jewish cemetery of (Yiddish name) Zvinyatchke (aka Zvinyace, Zvineace, Zveniachyn), Ukraine on the Dneister river.

The sudden break in the narrative (and melody) from the story of Jonah to a direct appeal to God from the woman singer makes this a very unusual song. I have found no other versions. This recording first appeared on a Global Village  Music cassette release of LSW’s songs Az di furst Avek (1986).  Upon another listen I have changed a few words in the transcription since that release. The transliteration reflects LSW’s dialect.

Yoyne-hanuvi iz fin Got antlofn.
Er hot nisht gevolt kayn shlikhes geyn.
Oyf dem shif hot es im getrofn
ven dus shif hot ungehoybn intergeyn.

Gevald! Varft men goyrl oys.
Veymen me zol in yam araynvarfn.
Goyrl iz aroys:
Yoyne-hanuvi min-hastam.

Inter dray misles hot Got bashert a nes.
A fish hot im ousgeshpign tsirik
Hobn di yidn gezeyn, vus se iz gesheyn.
Nisim fin Got aleyn.

Azoy zolst mir vazn vi mayn man tsi shpazn.
Uptsihitn zekh fin deym toyt.

Dus ken nisht keyner, nor di Got eyner.
Rateven Yoynen finem toyt.

Dus ken nisht keyner, nor Got di eyner.
Uptsirateven Yoynen fin deym toyt.

Jonah the prophet ran away from God;
He did not want to go on his mission.
There on the sea it happened to him –
when the ship started to sink.

Help! So they throw lots
to determine whom to throw into the sea.
The lots concluded that:
Jonah the Prophet of course.

In three days God performed a miracle.
A fish threw him back out.
And thus the Jews saw what had occurred –
miracles from God himself.

So you should show me
how to provide for my husband,
to save him from death.

No one can do this,
only you God –
who rescued Jonah from death.

yoyne1

yoyne2

yoyne3

“Lekoved yontef, lekoved Shabes” Performed by Zinaida Lyovina and Dasya Khrapunskaya

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Dmitri Slepovitch

Nina Stepanskaya (1954–2007) and I recorded Lekoved yontef, lekoved Shabes (“שבת לכבֿד , טאָב-יום לכבֿוד “, In Honor of the Holiday, In Honor of Shabes) in Pinsk in June, 2005 from two sisters, Zinaida Lyovina (b.1928) and Dasya Khrapunskaya (b. 1931), both born in Turov, Zhytkavichy region (rayon), Gomel oblast, 169 km east of Pinsk. Lekoved yontef, lekoved Shabes is a variant of Gabe, vos vil der rebbe, which has been featured previously in the Yiddish Song of the Week.

The father of the sisters (they were four siblings) became their first source for learning the Yiddish songs. Not to a lesser extent he became a source of their inspiration as they created their own songs, translated several Russian songs into Yiddish and composed new verses for popular Yiddish songs. Zinaida and Dasya told us that the father would never take them with him to the synagogue, but he sang at home, infusing the Passover seder and other home ceremonies with the delicious taste of rare and beautiful Jewish songs.

One of their father’s songs is Lekoved yontef, lekoved Shabes (In Honor of the Holiday, In Honor of Shabes). It is a quite typical dialog song between a rebbe (Hasidic sect leader) and a gabe (gabbai, synagogue assistant) known in several melodic versions (e.g., the one in the Hazamir choir repertoire published in Copenhagen in 1937).

The rhythmical structure of this song brings together a free time recitative in the verse and the clear 6/8 time in the refrain. The given type is inherent to a vast corpus of Yiddish songs, primarily those representing either a dialog (as in this case) or a monologue in first person.

A remarkable feature of this performance (not only of this song, but also of many others that we heard from the two sisters) is that Dasya and Zinaida tend to sing in harmony, most typically in third, sometimes meeting in unison. The reason for that rather non-typical manner of Ashkenazi Jewish vocal performance lies – not surprisingly – in the Belarusian cultural milieu. The two sisters, as some of our other interviewees in Belarus, explained to us that they “felt like singing in harmony because it was customary among their Belarusian friends and they often used to sing with them (before the WWII) in such way.”

Singing in harmony is one of a few amazing regional markers in Yiddish music performance known from both recent recordings and Beregovsky’s and Maggid’s collections, that all give a clear perspective on a given regional style and, in a wider sense, represent a regional soundscape as adapted by and mirrored in a local Jewish tradition.

The following video of Zinaida Lyovina’s and Dasya Khrapunskaya’s remarkable performance of “Lekoved yontef, lekoved Shabes” is featured in Dmitri Slepovitch’s new program, “Traveling the Yiddishland,” produced for the Folksbiene National Yiddish Theater. The show integrates video taken from Slepovitch’s and Nina Stepanskaya’s field research in Belarus with live performances of the music arranged by Slepovitch for his ensemble.


Gabe! ­– Vos vil der rebe?
Der rebe vil ­­– me zol im derlangen.
Vos? – Latkes mit shmalts,
Az der rebe mit der rebetsn
Zol zayn a gezunt in haldz.
 
Gabbay! – What does the rebbe wish?
When the rebbe wishes, he should be offered something.
What? – Latkes with goose fat,
So that the rebbe and his wife
Should have healthy throats.
 
Chorus:

Lekoved yontef,
Bim-bam-bam-bam
Lekoved Shabes,
Bim-bam-bam-bam
Lekoved yontef,
Bim-bam-bam-bam,
Lekoved Shabes, bim-bam.
 

In honor of the holiday,
Bim-bam-bam-bam
In honor of Sabbath,
Bim-bam-bam-bam.
In honor of the holiday,
Bim-bam-bam-bam
In honor of Sabbath, bim-bam.

Gabe! ­– Vos vil der rebe?
Der rebe vil ­­– me zol im derlangen.
Vos? – A telerl mit yoykh,
Az der rebe mit der rebetsn
Zol zayn a gezunt in boykh.
 

Gabbay! ­– What does the rebbe wish?
When the rebbe wishes, he should be offered something.
What? ­– A plateful of chicken soup,
So that the rebbe and his wife
Should have healthy stomachs.
 
Chorus
 
Gabe! ­– Vos vil der rebe?
Der rebe vil ­­– me zol im derlangen.
Vos? – A telerl mit fish,
Az der rebe mit der rebetsn
Zol zayn a gezunt in di fis.
 

Gabbay! ­– What does the rebbe wish?
When the rebbe wishes, he should be offered something.
What? ­– A plateful of fish,
So that the rebbe and his wife
Should have healthy feet.

 Chorus

“Di fishelekh in vaser” Performed by Tsunye Rymer

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2010 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Di fishelekh in vaser (The Fish in Water) was one of Isaac (Tsunye) Rymer‘s most beloved songs to perform (for more on Rymer see the previous posting on Shpilt zhe mir dem nayem sher). The performer Michael Alpert learned it from him (Alpert was present at this recording, done at a zingeray, or singing session, at our dining room table) and then taught others the song at KlezKamp and other festivals and workshops. The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band and Shtreiml have recorded Rymer‘s version.

The song itself is a typical Yiddish mother-daughter folksong [see Robert Rothstein “The Mother-Daughter Dialogue in the Yiddish Folk Song: Wandering Motifs in Time and Space,” New York Folklore 15 (1989), 1-2:51-65.] But the couplet “I am a girl with understanding, common sense and ideas/I sought to fall in love (or have a love affair), but cannot attain it” is unique to this song.

The closest printed version I have found is in Folklor lider, Moscow 1936 vol. 2, Z. Skuditski/M. Viner, vol. 2, page 155, recorded in Bela Tservkva (Yiddish – „Shvartse tume‟), Ukraine, 1926 (see their footnotes for similar verses in other collections).

In this recording made at our home around 1980, Rymer sings with great passion and his exclamations of „mame mayne!‟ says it all. When I first heard this recording after many years, it bothered me to hear others at the table join in with Rymer. But I realized that this was how we learned the songs ourselves – singing along, missing a word at first here and there, until we got it right.

Oy, fishelekh in vaser,  zey iz fil beser.
Bay zey iz nit keyn untersheyd, fin klener biz tsu greser.
Oy, fishelekh in vaser, zey iz fil beser.
Bay zey iz nit keyn untersheyd, fun klener biz tsu greser.

O the fish in water, they have it much better.
They don‘t make a difference
between the smaller ones and bigger ones.

„Oy vey tokhter, s‘badarf azoy nit zayn.
Der zeyger hot shoyn tsvelef geshlugn, kim in shtib arayn.‟
„Der zeyger hot shoyn tsevelf geshlugn, kh‘hob moyre far mayn tatn.‟
„Kum zhe shoyn in shtib aran, s‘vet dir gurnisht shatn. „

„O dear daughter, it shouldn‘t be this way.
The clock has already struck twelve, come inside the home.‟
„The clock has already struck twelve, I‘m afraid of father.‟
„Come on inside, nothing will happen to your‟

„Oy vey mame, fartsap mir nit mayn blit,
lomikh mit im reydn, nokh a pur minit.
Ikh bin a meydele mit farshtand, seykhl un gedanken,
a libe shpiln hot zikh mir farglist, ikh kon es nisht derlangen.‟

„O dear mother, don‘t suck my blood,
Let me talk to him, just a few more minutes.
I am a girl with understanding, common sense and ideas.
I sought to fall in love, but I cannot attain it.‟

Fil muzikantn shpiln, mame, oyfn frayen feld.
Ikh hob farshpilt mayn lebn, mame, kh‘ob farshpilt mayn velt.
Ih hob farshpilt mayn leybn, mame, tsures un a shir,
tsi bashraybn mayne layden, klekt nit keyn papir. 

Many musicians, mother mine, play in the open field.
I have lost my life, mother, I have lost my world.
I have lost my life, mother, troubles without end.
To describe my sorrows, no amount of paper would suffice.

Oy, fil brilyantn, mame mayne, hob ikh shoyn gezeyn.
Nor ven ikh kik zikh tsi tsi zey, zenen zey gemeyn.
Nor eyn brilyant, mame mayne, ligt mir nor in zinen.
Un vu ikh gey, un vu ikh shtey, ikh kon im nit gefinen. 
Nor eyn brilyant, mame mayne, ligt mir nor in zinen.
Un vu ikh gey, un vu ikh shtey, ikh kon im nit gefinen.

Many gems, mother mine, have I already seen.
But when I look at them, I find them coarse. 
But one gem, mother mine, do I have in my mind,
And wherever I go, wherever I stand, I cannot find him.