kaddish in two-part harmony

mira z. amiras, ph.d.
Erin Vang, BMus, MMus, PMP

The Memoirist and the Musician.  The memoirist immerses all night in midrash on the Kaddish.  The musician spends all night in her own midrashic response.  And making the music of kaddish.  Making music kadosh.  A flurry of emails ensue between the two.  They blog.  Their blogs lock horns, as do the writers themselves.  They try to live the life they are given — with now a new ingredient.  A project has begun:  a kaddish in two-part harmony.

The cast of characters:

  • the musician writer who must play and record “Kaddish” every day for a year and a day
  • the listener writer who will hear it for a year and a day
  • the pair of writers who will write, not always by blog

The rules:

  • one take, no editing, no practicing Kaddish before recording it (practicing yes, Kaddish no)
  • one Kaddish every day, and multiple Kaddishim on all Yahrtzeits
  • the music is allowed and expected to evolve
  • the writer and the musician will not meet during the year, neither face to face nor by phone
  • the writing must not be allowed to become a daily tyranny for either party
  • the writer and the musician must not fall in love; to wit, the focus is on the material at hand

The supporting cast:

  • the musician’s wife
  • the dog and the cats of both, who sit patiently (mostly) next to the writers and who will inevitably be heard on the musician’s recordings
  • the mutual friend who sits at the fulcrum, giggling (yes, what have you done?)
  • the musician’s rebbe, who will provide the words, the voice, and the rebbeness
  • the musician’s dad, who has requested the impossible
  • the healers who have left us
  • the tzaddik—lamed vavnik—in the world to come
  • the heeler who died
  • all those who have departed, in one way or another
  • disease, misfortune, and the woes of the world
  • malkah, the shekhinah herself, if she so wills it

The Memoirist is not required to listen to Kaddish. She must hear Kaddish. The ear is an involuntary muscle.

A wise woman has defined rebbe thus:

rebbe — (to be distinguished from rabbi) — a wise rabbi we consider as our teacher and treat with reverence, which everyone else we know thinks is misplaced.

Commitment to a yearlong process together, to becoming a minyan of sorts.

An exploration of how the playing of “Kaddish” and the saying of Kaddish transforms throughout the year.

Immersion in the dynamic between mourner and musician when they are the same woman.

Immersion in the line between Memoirist and Anthropologist—where the mourner seeks to escape the process of mourning, by means of the comfort of analytical process.

Celebration of the dynamics between text, music, musician, listener, and writers.

Some of the (best) writing will be privately transmitted and not appear here in the blogs.

The entire enterprise—both private and public—will make an appearance after the conclusion of the project.

Only then will the Memoirist and the Musician greet each other for the first time face to face.


Memoirist’s blog: and this part is true

Musician’s blog: So you think…?

New, joint blog for this project: to be announced soon

If you want to listen along: href=https://erinvang.com/?p=417