Dance tune (Niggun rikud)

A tune used mostly for dancing. The Hebrew term is likely a translation of the earlier Yiddish terms, such as tants nign or a tenzl. Other terms for dance tunes are: hopke; dreidl; redl or redele (all probably used by Polish hassidim[1]); freylekhs; and kadatshke (used in various communities). Hassidic dance tunes have defined musical characteristics such as duple meter and fast tempi (metronome 116-168). They also use fixed forms, such as: monosectional (A), bisectional (AB), trisectional (ABC), and the forms ABCB, ABCDB, and ABCDC.[2] Klezmer dance tunes have a more compound structure with more sections[3] including the Rondo structure (sound examples 1-4).[4]

Hassidic dance tunes can be divided into two groups: tunes with texts and tunes without texts. These tunes, compared to those of other genres (ie. devekut niggunim, marches, valses), generally have fixed texts which are performed mostly at weddings and at rejoicing festivals such as Simhat Torah and Lag Ba'omer (sound example 5). Tish gatherings often end with a dance tune (sound example 6). Tunes without texts that are not usually connected to specific holidays or events may be sung during the Sabbath, and  during Festival services to texts such as "Lo Tevoshi" (from "Lekha Dodi") and the Kaddish titqabel.


See also Tants nign in the Lexicon of Klezmer Terminology (LKT).


[1] See Vinaver-Schleifer, Anthology of Hassidic music, p. 240; see also Moshe Beregovski, Jewish Instrumental Folk Music, 2001, no. 85, 102.

[2]  See Mazor-Hajdu, The Hasidic Dance- Niggun: A Study Collection and its Classificatory Analysis, pp. 139-143, and no. 2, 20-23, 47.

[3] ibid. no. 39-40.

[4]  ibid no. 34, 36 and 58.


Sound Examples: 
1. AB structure dance tune

Shiru Lo Zimro Lo: bisectional dance tune. Performers: Yeshiva students. Recorder: Andre Hajdu. Bnei Brak, Israel: 7.1.1967. NSA Y1037.

Musical Transcription

2. ABCB structure dance tune

A niggun comprised of two dance tunes of Vishnitz Hassidim, creating the form ABCB. Taken from the JMRC CD: The Hasidic Niggun as Sung by the Hasidim

Musical Transcription

3. ABCD structure dance tune

Al Ahat Kama Ve-Kama, dance tune in a rare structure of ABCD. Performers: crowd. Recorder: Andre Hajdu. Kefar Habbad, Israel, 1.12.1966. NSA Y435.

Musical Transcription

4. Rondo form dance tune

Dance tune in rondo form, performed in the Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai tomb during the Hilula of Moshe Rabenu. Performer: M. Berlin and band. Recorder: Andre Hajdu. Meron, Israel, 20.3.1967. NSA 565.

Musical Transcription

5. Dance tune with fixed text

Boreh 'Olam Ba-Kinyan: dance tune with a fixed text. Performer: Avraham Shteinberg. Recorder: Yaakov Mazor. Jerusalem, 3.3.1970. NSA Y978.

Musical Transcription

6. Dance tune ending the TIsh

Dance tune of Boyan Hassidim. Taken from the JMRC CD: The Hasidic Niggun as Sung by the Hasidim