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Honors Abstract


"Music as Religious Culture: An Ethnomusicological Study of the Atlanta Jewish Community"
- Author: Felicia Sara Edlin (2010)
- Thesis Advisor: Don Seeman
- Program: Religion


Ethnomusicology is a small part of exploring identity and ethnicity, and I will use it
to reveal a greater understanding a Jewish communities' relation to their Jewish
identity and to others within their society. My project analyzes the role of music
within the Atlanta Jewish community. By employing an ethnomusicological approach,
this thesis reveals the different musical styles of Judaism, how music is used to bring
together the modern Jewish community, and the nature of Jewish music itself. I
interviewed seven leaders of the Atlanta Jewish community from different denominations
in order to gain knowledge about Jewish music from a wide range of sources all within
one broad community. I then analyzed the data from these interviews and found common
themes that arose from each interview and explored each topic in a different chapter of
my thesis. While every leader had distinct ideas about the nature of music and what
Jewish music is, these issues were all ones that the different denominations struggle with
within their own congregations. I began by thinking of music as a symbol in terms of
how Geertz defines one - as an idealistic notion that represents religion. In the end,
however, the wide diversity and range of music within the community demonstrates how
while music is a symbol of Judaism, Geertz's absolute, universal term of symbol is one
that is too restricting and all encompassing.




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Last updated: November 16, 2011



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