Writing on Water grasps the phenomenon of sound in prayer, that is, a meaning in sounds and soundscapes, and a musical essence in the act of praying.
The impetus for the book arose from the author's fieldwork among traditional Jews during the era of communism in Budapest and Prague. In that period the Jewish religion and Jewishness in general were supressed and rituals became semi-secret and turned inward. The book is a witness to these communities and their rituals, but it goes beyond documentation. The uniqueness of the sounds of the rituals compelled the author to try to comprehend how melodies and soundscapes became the sustaining/protective environment, as well as the vehicle, for the expression of a world-orientation-in a situation where open discourse was inconceivable.
The book is based on extensive interviews, musical recordings, photographs and scholarly analyses. It is unique in its choice of communities, its wealth of original documents, and its novel interpretation of sound.
Writing on Water is creative non-fiction. The presentation is evocative and poetic, but at the same time it transmits knowledge. The book can aid research and serve in courses in philosophy, religion, music, ethnomusicology, anthropology, aesthetics, Jewish studies, folklore, oral history, and performance studies. It is also a work of art and literature.
Judit Niran Frigyesi is a teacher, musicologist, ethnomusicologist, and writer, associate professor of Bar Ilan and Tel Aviv Universities. Her research focuses on nineteenth and twentieth-century music and literature, the music of Bela Bartok, music cultures, especially ritual music practices, outside of the European tradition, and the prayer chant of Ashkenazic Jews. Her artistic works include short stories, poems, photographs and photomontages, film and multi-media.