Music > Tsippi Fleischer > About Tsippi Fleischer > Research on Hebrew Folk Song

Research on Hebrew Folk Song

Click to enlarge The third of Tsippi Fleischer’s main areas of focus, one that reflects her deep personal commitment to her homeland (and is related to her ideology in the field of education) is the study of the Hebrew Song as reflecting the demography and history of the Yishuv and the State of Israel, and “cultivating memory of the Israeli and Jewish entity” as she defines. Her interest in the Hebrew Song began when she was a teenager at the Reali School in Haifa. Her final high school project, The Historical Development of the Hebrew Folksong (submitted in 1964), was a study broad in scope, the first of its kind in Israel, on the history of the Hebrew Song. The work eventually received recognition as a valid ethno-musicological study and was ultimately published in a thick volume. The book surveys musical styles, combining the historical background of songs from the beginning of the pioneering settlement in Israel, songs from the “state-in-progress” and songs from the first years of the young state, together with rare musical illustrations and an index of the beginnings of melodies. In addition, the book includes musical analysis of songs and many interviews with artists – poets and writers, composers and performers. Fleischer expanded her scope in this field and has published additional studies of the Hebrew Song including: The Giants of the Kibbutz in Hebrew Folksong: Matityahu Shelem, David Zehavi, Yehuda Sharet; The Emek: A Dream - Songs of the Jezreel Valley; From the 50s to the 60s: The Changeover in Hebrew Song: 1957-1964, and others.

​The centrality of the Hebrew folksong in Israeli culture was translated by Tsippi Fleischer into a project that she initiated, produced and carried out at the Levinsky College of Education during the years 1992-1996, known as “Forumei Hazemer” (Hebrew Song Forums). As part of this project, she facilitated meetings devoted to topics of an historical character (Zionism and pioneering settlements; the first waves of Aliyah; the Arab riots in Eretz Israel; World War II; the establishment of the state and the years of the state itself) and cross-sectional topics (the landscape and climate of Israel; songs of childhood, pre-school and school; Jewish musical heritages from East and West and foreign musical influences; folkdance songs; songs of the Sabbath, and more). Additional sessions were devoted to important creators such as Matityahu Shelem, Emanuel Zamir, Moshe Wilensky, Sasha Argov, Naomi Shemer, Yoram Tehar-Lev, Emanuel Amiran, Matti Caspi, Shalom Hanoch and more, as well as to forgotten creators such as Haim Barkani, Amitai Neeman, Yigal Gordon and others. “The enterprise plunged the entire college [Levinsky College] into a deep awareness as a result of the attention focused on the Hebrew Song,” wrote Fleischer. “Those were the years of the growth of Hard Rock in Israel. . . That occurrence [those years in the Hebrew Song] is important in the life of Israeli culture, pioneering – in the double sense of the meaning – the first of its kind, and arouses a pioneering-Zionist sensation from the past . . . then it extends to the interesting and refreshing innovations of the [rock] bands Tipex and Ethnix . . . The creative participation of students in the Hebrew Song Forums, including exposing them as singers-composers-arrangers to their peers, was of utmost importance and added an experience with tremendous resonance . . . which left qualities of knowledge and joy that will not be effaced. There is no power that can erase in you what you have experienced at intensities that are far beyond everyday routine . . . . ” These meetings afterwards constituted a basis for the series of open concerts at the college on the topic of “the pioneers of folksong and musical education in the Jewish Yishuv.”


Harmonization of Songs In 2005, Fleischer published the two volumes of her book Harmonization of Songs (the overview presented here from Fleischer’s original website displays sample pages from each chapter) which are the fruit of dozens of years of research and teaching in the realm of Harmonization and the Israeli Song. In the self-teaching textbook, which became a central tool for performers, educators, song composers and arrangers across Israel, Fleischer presents a unique musical-cultural methodology for analyzing Hebrew songs melodies, inspired by the pioneering work of the composers and ethnomusicologists Bela Bartok and Zoltán Kodály in the field of folk song.


The year 2013 saw the publication of Tsippi Fleischer’s expansive study Matti Caspi – The Magic and the Enigma, in which she lays out the rich and unique harmonic world of the composer and performer Matti Caspi, based on an in-depth analysis of 40 of his songs, at the same time dealing with the layers of his life and the musical influences, from Israel and outside of Israel, that operated on him. The analyses of the songs attribute great importance to the texts to which the melodies are set. The study includes two editions: an expanded three-volume edition, which was given as a gift to the main music libraries in Israel, and a one-volume edition for distribution in bookstores. Another of Tsippi Fleischer’s broad studies that will be published in the future is a chronological continuation of her book from 1964 on the styles of the Hebrew Song through the end of the second decade of the third millennium.