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31.01.2024 | כא שבט התשפד

The Musical Impact of October 7th

Prof. Shai Cohen, Head of the BIU Music Dpt.’s Program of Music, Technology, and Visual Media, analyzes the tragedy's effect on the Israeli soundscape

האפקט המוסיקלי של 7 באוקטובר

Israeli musicians, as integral voices in the cultural discourse, are in a complex position, yearning for resolution amidst this time of turmoil. The current Israeli mindset urges them to set aside the self, actively engage in collectivism, and be relevant to present events.

Various musical directions seem relevant. One may involve expressing profound fury in a loud, intense sound, while another may seek solace in softer tones, offering comfort and encouragement in a small yet meaningful presence within a dark place. An 'inner fire' may demand musicians to articulate their unrest, venture outside themselves to be authentic, prompt physical musical action, and directly convey intense emotions through the penetrating sound of distortion in guitars, the fervor of a soloist, or any other powerful effort. Alternatively, they might confront social, national, and personal commitments with a comforting sound, based on longing, understanding, and a quiet manifested acoustic sound without potent electronic or electric instruments.

A multitude of songs were recently released in Israel since the conflict's onset, many reflecting the yearning for a return to more tranquil times or the pursuit of solace. Most songs tend toward 'downshifting,' returning to an unplugged, quieter sound of guitars or pianos.

Yet, from another time and place, amidst war events, the experimental guitarist Jimi Hendrix comes to mind. His choice to release anger

through aggressive, provocative, and experimental sounds imitating rocket blasts, gunfire, plane dives, and even screams, stands out.

Even in the realm of classical music, operating in a narrow space, where the revolutionary reflex has long become part of the genre's nerve system, a similar contemplation is present. In this context, Professor Cohen notes the new dramatic composition by composer Yosef Bardenshvili, "Face Concealment," for choir, cantor, and chamber orchestra, based on Holocaust testimonies, alongside the veteran work "October Sun" written in 1974 by composer Mark Kopytman and poet Yehuda Amichai, whose words hold somber significance even today.

Conversely, delving back into another place and time, we recall Keshetof Panderzki's penetrating work, "Lament for Hiroshima's Victims," composed for 52 string instruments that sounded like a dense electronic cloud with effects resembling explosions and bursts, directly overwhelming the listener with sounds.

We're in a period of uncertainty, yet we may assume that Israeli creators' intuitive perception, attuned to the movement of life, won't relinquish authenticity. Music will surely find its unique way to express both anger and solace, perhaps through a powerful, penetrating, and local human expression—an understated light, yet one impossible to ignore—even within the darkness.