What is missing is not the text or the “performativity” but imaginative curiosity about the event itself where people participated in the prayer, where it unfolded. As the musicologist Christopher Small writes, “Most of the world's musicians—[meaning] anyone who sings or plays or composes—have no use for musical scores and do not treasure musical works but simply play and sing, drawing on remembered melodies and rhythms and on their own powers of invention… For performance does not exist in order to present musical works, but rather, musical works exist in order to give performers something to perform.”(Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening, 7-8) If, as Small argues, “Music is not a thing at all but an activity, something that people do,” (p. 2) this suggests that like music, religion cannot be contained in a written text (or score) or a single individual (an isolated listener or performer). Instead, like music, these prayers and blessings only enter the world when they are done by people and become events. But what does that tell me about my dried-up ancient texts—what kind of event is a prayer; what does it sound like?A long essay with a great deal happening in it.
Cross-file under Yom Kippur.
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