Contrary to what you might think, this post is NOT about onomatopoeia. Instead, last night I thought of an idea for a post that only seems to appear in music, and not in other places.
(Actually, I take that back. There is a theme known as the “Big No,” which also goes along with the theme. But I wanted to start from what gave me the idea! Because of the aural qualities of this post, there will also be a SoundCloud link just below… and an awkward transcription when I start off with this parenthetical paragraph!)
During the שבת (Shabbat) evening service, most synagogues or communities make it a very musical experience, with many of the psalms, prayers, and Scripture excerpts being sung aloud. On page 34 of the “Slim Shalom”, or page 294 of the old Siddur Sim Shalom, ושמרו (V’shamru) is sung (please rise!). The line in question that inspired the post is part of the first line. This is the tune which some people call the “drinking tune” version. And yes, in the audio I am going to sing it rather than just say it!
… ושמרו בני ישראל את השבת
Notice that the penultimate word here was sung “eh-eh-et“. Well the actual word is a one-syllable et. Therefore, the thesis of this post is the idea of elongating syllables in songs, through multiple pitches. Even if an elongated syllable is a single syllable, I interpret it as a new syllable each time that the pitch changes.
So, there’s another point during the שבת evening service where I especially notice the syllable elongation. The common tune for מגן אבות (Magen Avot) has a good amount of syllable elongation. If you’re following along, this is on page 314 in Siddur Sim Shalom or page 47 in “Slim Shalom.” This tune also happens to be one of the favorites of my Mom. The last three words in this tune EACH have elongated syllables. These words are (first I’ll sing and then say them, with the transliteration as spoken):
זכר למעשה בראשית
Ignore the fact that the tune repeats the middle word. The pronunciations without singing it: “zay-kher l’ma’a’say bray’sheet.” So, the words as correctly pronounced are respectively two, four, and two syllables. But, the tune has four, five, and six syllables respectively, in the sense that I have previously implied.
But I better not make it only about Hebrew songs. Just so that I don’t elongate (HA) this post too long, I’ll give my canonical example of a song with a stretched syllable. I will probably have to ask for apology later from 10000 Maniacs, however:
“They can’t hurt you now, can’t hurt you now, can’t hurt you now-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow. Because the night belongs to lovers…”
Today is the three-hundred and ninety-first day of Mission 441. Fifty days remain.