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#1988085 - 11/18/12 09:28 AM Hebrew lyrics
Schroeder II Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
Anyone out there familiar with the use of Hebrew language when it comes to song lyrics?
It occurred to me that the score is typically written left to right
But Hebrew is written right to left
How does one combine lyrics and score yet allow for this situation?

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#1988087 - 11/18/12 09:39 AM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: Schroeder II]
malkin Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2749
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Schroeder,
You deserve an award for fun random questions!
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#1988092 - 11/18/12 09:48 AM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: Schroeder II]
Schroeder II Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
I have been saving them up!
Should die down a bit once I have been on a few weeks
One thing I like already are so many avid users on this forum
You get feedback quickly just like above

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#1988110 - 11/18/12 10:51 AM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: Schroeder II]
JeanieA Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 512
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Your question piqued my curiousity. As I am not yet motivated on this cold, wet Sunday morning to get off the sofa and make breakfast, I researched. Here's what I discovered and, although I make no claim to be a language scholar, it might answer your question.

Apparently there is a language process called "transliteration." Which, according to the Online Dictionary means to represent (letters or words) of one language into the corresponding characters of another alphabet. So the "words" remain the same, they aren't translated like you'd translate French into English, but changed from one alphabet system into another.

So, when the Hebrew script is transliterated into romanized characters, the direction in which the text is read is reversed. That would answer your question. And it makes my head hurt to think about reading backwards and forwards! smile

I wonder, though, if the music had been composed by an ancient Hebrew-speaking composer and was actually written down somewhere, if there was some special music notation at that time that did read right to left?


Edited by JeanieA (11/18/12 11:04 AM)
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#1988129 - 11/18/12 11:35 AM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: Schroeder II]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5658
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I sing in the High Holy Days choir at one of my client's services, tho I'm not Jewish, it's just fun to sing. Many of those folks speak Hebrew. But in our music it's done the way JeanieA says - it's written out phonetically left to right. Which is not to say that I pronounce it right any way :\

But it's an interesting question about how it was done in the Middle Ages or earlier.

Cathy
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#1988145 - 11/18/12 12:21 PM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: Schroeder II]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
The lyrics would either be transliterated, or, for those who don't read latin letters, written syllable-by-syllable backward. I suppose Arabic would have the same problem.

.ple am ex an is Here

Although, thinking about this some more, often just the words are written as everyone knows the tune.


Edited by ten left thumbs (11/18/12 02:48 PM)
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#1988152 - 11/18/12 12:38 PM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: jotur]
Schroeder II Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
Originally Posted By: jotur
I sing in the High Holy Days choir at one of my client's services, tho I'm not Jewish, it's just fun to sing. Many of those folks speak Hebrew. But in our music it's done the way JeanieA says - it's written out phonetically left to right. Which is not to say that I pronounce it right any way :\

But it's an interesting question about how it was done in the Middle Ages or earlier.

Cathy

In the Middle Ages I would suspect this was not a major issue as 99 percent of the world was illiterate and music was more or less passed down through the generations through one on one demonstration


Edited by Schroeder II (11/19/12 12:35 PM)

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#1988156 - 11/18/12 12:48 PM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: Schroeder II]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12206
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Schroeder II
Anyone out there familiar with the use of Hebrew language when it comes to song lyrics?
It occurred to me that the score is typically written left to right
But Hebrew is written right to left
How does one combine lyrics and score yet allow for this situation?


I recently sang an opera that had some Hebrew lyrics. It was written out phonetically/transliterated. The same goes for Russian or Japanese lyrics.
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#1988211 - 11/18/12 03:57 PM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: Morodiene]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: Schroeder II
Anyone out there familiar with the use of Hebrew language when it comes to song lyrics?
It occurred to me that the score is typically written left to right
But Hebrew is written right to left
How does one combine lyrics and score yet allow for this situation?


I recently sang an opera that had some Hebrew lyrics. It was written out phonetically/transliterated. The same goes for Russian or Japanese lyrics.


Though for Hebrew speakers, Japanese speakers and Russian speakers, this may not apply.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1988221 - 11/18/12 04:20 PM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: Schroeder II]
Allard Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/12
Posts: 342
Loc: Netherlands
Japanese is written left-to-right, so there's no trouble anyway. As a Final Fantasy fan, I have some of the OST songbooks. The lyrics are in Japanese. Interestingly, it's entirely written in hiragana (phonetic alphabet), not in kanji (the thousands of different Chinese characters), making it fairly easy to read. One can learn the hiragana alphabet in one or two weeks. I have NO idea what the words mean, but I could sing along happily. Assuming I could sing.
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#1988253 - 11/18/12 05:44 PM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: Schroeder II]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11845
Loc: Canada
I have a vague recollection of once seeing a song written in Hebrew for speakers of that language, and I think that the music was also written backward from right to left. Or did I dream it?

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#1988392 - 11/19/12 06:00 AM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: Schroeder II]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Probably dreamt it, music in Hebrew language is written left to right.

But I would like to point out that I am a Hebrew speaker, and I did answer the question above.
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www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1988413 - 11/19/12 07:48 AM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: Schroeder II]
Ganddalf Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 699
Loc: Norway
Russian language is also written left to right (and so is Norwegian if the question comes up). In other words, no problem.
As a singer I once performed Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. The text was transliterated and written with latin letters.
I recently composed two songs with lyrics in Tolkien's Elvish language. I considered turning the sheet 90 degrees counterclockwise.

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#1988420 - 11/19/12 08:17 AM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: Schroeder II]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12206
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
My comment about transliteration was not to imply that things were not read left to right for Russian and other languages, but more addressing the idea of a different alphabet.
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MTNA member
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#1988492 - 11/19/12 11:03 AM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: ten left thumbs]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11845
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs

But I would like to point out that I am a Hebrew speaker, and I did answer the question above.

So you did. I missed it. frown
A google search shows that this question is actually discussed a lot. There is an interesting in depth article of the kinds of decisions that had to be made when the question first came up.
on the topic

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#1988518 - 11/19/12 12:23 PM Re: Hebrew lyrics [Re: Schroeder II]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Very interesting keystring. Of course the native Hebrew musical notation (te'amim) is in the biblical text anyway, but if you thought learning to read music was hard, you should try this way...

Edit: Called cantillation marks. Anyone know how to read them?


Edited by ten left thumbs (11/19/12 03:20 PM)
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www.babysinging.co.uk

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