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Blog 7, Kotkes

In the video of the Metlevi Sema ceremony, it mentioned that the Metlevi can be found in numerous Turkish communities. The most well known is in Konya and Istanbul. The Metlevi are known for their dances. Their dances were banned for a while under the Turkish government finally allowing the dances to be performed publicly. There is a special ceremony called the Sema Ceremony. This tradition was practiced in secret for a while which resulted in them focusing on music and songs,rather than on spiritual or religious traditions.

In the slideshow, it mentioned what the dance represented as a connection with the music. The beginning is with one palm upward and one palm downward which represents receiving the blessings of God and transmitting it to the earth. Throughout the rest of the dance, there is spinning and twirling which represents God’s divineness throughout the world.

The music seems to have an effect of seriousness on the listener’s body and mind. The beginning of the music is more slow and serious which is supposedly representing the oneness of God. Next, the music sounds louder and more exciting which is supposedly representing the love for God and his divineness of this manifest. It seems like very serious music unlike other music which is more exciting to dance to. The dances of twirling to this music seems very particular and not the type to laugh about or dance the way one would like.

The piece of music that I chose was “Kol Nidre” by Selmar Cerini which is a player sung on the Jewish high holiday of Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is a very serious day for the Jews as they are begging God to spare their lives for another year. This song, “Kol Nidre” is the first song of this spiritual holiday. It begins very softly and as the chazzan,the leader of the prayer service, repeats the prayer it gets louder and louder. The music represents the theme of this sacred ritual of asking God for repentance. The role of this prayer and piece of music is to ask God to please forgive any promises not kept or any sins they did throughout the past year. It is recited softly at first  to represent approaching the king of the world, God, as it is a scary and fearful experience. Then, it is recited a little louder each time to represent the closer and less scary it is to approach Him. 

These two traditions are very different from each other. The Sema Ceremony involves twirling in a specific way while music is being played. The Kol Nidre song involves praying and standing very solemnly and seriously. Another difference is that the Sema ceremony is about God and how wonderful He is while Kol Nidre is about asking God for forgiveness.One similarity though would be that both traditions involve softer and quieter music that escalates to louder music.

1 Comment

  1. I really like how you focused on how the two traditions are different and how the Sema Ceremony involved twirling while the music was being played and compared it to how the Kol Nirdre involves mainly prayer. These are two very big aspects that make the two pieces very different. I also liked how you found that they were similar since both traditions involve quieter music which gets louder overtime.

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