Intent and Scope

Transcriptions of All the Belf Tunes / транскрипции всех ноты записей Белфа / בעלףס

A project like this means making decisions on intent and scope. The goal was to produce fairly accurate representation of the melody, harmony, rhythm, and form of each tune as performed on the source recordings. They are not intended as documentation of the recording. They are "the dots on the page" to help players who have heard the recordings.

These are lead sheets. Ornamentation, quick runs, and the like are not included. The recordings were made before recording became the "golden documentation" of a piece of music. These are instances of performance. Dotted eighths are simply shown, as is common, as triplets, assuming the player knows that they usually are not articulated evenly. (In the case of Turetskaya, a decision was made that the repeat of the first turn is a trainwreck on the record, and an ordinary repeat of the melody is in the transcription, not what is actually played, or not played).

Harmonies sheets attempt, with much success, to show the point where chord changes happen, and what the chord is. Especially with the lack of bass response in some recordings, it can be difficult sometimes to tell. Usually, little detail beyond the chord root and its major/minor quality are shown. In a few cases, where it seemed essential to the sound, there is indication of an unusual third (Simchas Toyre begins on a chord that has a third, which is neither major or minor in today's common practice, nor in just intonation), or of an apparent extended harmony. But there may be places that a 7th should be added that isn't noted.

Rhythm has not been analysed on a measure by measure basis. At most, a pattern that resembles the one played on the record is shown for each section, possibly with an alternative if it changes in the measure. Often, one pattern is sufficient for the whole piece. Again, this is an aid to a player who has heard the recording. The notation doesn't show the smaller details where the rhythm pushes and pulls, although there is a little narrative at times to help point out the "feel".

Feel free to have your own ideas - either about what was played, or what should be played. Programming these sheets into a sequencer will not produce the music. Whether you are trying to "play like Belf", or making your own decisions, these are a great scaffolding to build the music on - but you have to provide the rest.