Gas-nign (LKT)

This entry is part of the Lexicon of Klezmer Terminology (LKT). The LKT compiles a wide array of source materials that shed light on the historical and contemporary state of knowledge about klezmer music. Each entry includes a number of citations from primary and secondary sources that include or refers to the term in question. It also indicates whether musical notation or sound recordings are included in the source. By clicking on the bibliographic hyperlink at the end of each citation, you get the full reference.


Alpert 1996a, p. 16.

“These klezmorim know many pieces: dance, instrumental works played at the table, street tunes (accompanying the march to the xupe [wedding canopy], leading the in-laws, etc.)...” Beregovski 1937 [= Beregovski/Slobin 1982, p. 532]

“The literal translation of gas-nign is ‘street tune.’ This is what the klezmorim called the pieces they played on the street while accompanying guests home at night after the wedding feast or the following day after a solemn meal. The most improtant trait distinguishing these pieces from the wedding repertoire is the triple meter. It is not known how this tradition of playing the gas-nign in triple meter began. It is also not clear whether this is typical of the gas-nign only in the Ukraine.” Beregovski 1962 [= Beregovksi/Slobin 1982, p. 501, n. 81]

Gas-nign.” Beregovski/Goldin 1987, #62-79. (Musical notation included). 

“Concerning those melodies which appear the most established at Meron, such as those connected to processions and other ritual moments during the pilgrimage, they are -- according to the accounts -- precisely those which also have a function in the marriages celebrated in the two cities [Tzfat and Tiberias]. Thus the processional melodies -- in the slow march rhythm -- were --according to [klezmer A.] Segal’s expression -- ‘gas-nign’ (street song). These songs accompanied the traditional procession to the house of the bride-to-be. Other melodies which do not actually have another function other than accompanying dance, had, in these marriages, a more precise role: one melody would be played before the khupe, another for the arrival of the bride, etc.” Hadju, 1971, p. 79

“‘Der Gasn Nigun (A)’... has also been recorded under the title National Hora. I have transcribed two versions of this piece so you may hear how different performers interpret the kind of embellishments that are intrinsic to the hora dance form. It was the kind of tune played to accompany the bridal part home...[H. Kandel, 1923/A. Schwartz, c. 1920s]. Phillips 1996a, p. 61. (Musical notation and  recording references included). 

“‘Der Gasn Nigun (B)’... The second version of Gasn Nigun is based on Abe Schwartz’s 1920 violin solo [Romanian style]... The pace is quicker and Schwartz launches into a freylakh half-way through. The two measures before the opening double bar line of the freylakh... are not a melody, but a set-up of the new tempo and rhythm.” Phillips 1996a, pp. 62-63.  (Musical notation and  recording references included). 

“Tunes in triple time are one of the most intriguing questions about klezmer music... But we also have a lot of tunes which are not connected with dancing. Although zhok was sometimes just used as ‘street melodies’ without tunes.” Phillips 1996b, p. 176

Gas nign (street melody) refers to pieces which were played in the street by klezmorim as they accompanied guests home after a wedding or other festive event.” Rubin 1997, p. 21. (Recording references included). 

“At the end of the wedding the klezmorim played their closing melodies, ‘good night,’ ‘morning arrives’ –- (a ‘gute nakht,’ ‘es togt shoyn’ ). The celebrations draw to a close and the guests disperse. In some small communities the klezmorim would accompany the mekhutonim home. In other places they would escort the young couple to their new home with a special march or with a ‘street-tune’ (mus. ex. 24).” Stutschewsky 1959, p. 176. (Musical notation included). 

“[The] ‘street-melody’ (gasn-nign)...  was played in the street to accompany the procession of guests and in-laws to the ‘khupe’ or during their return after the conclusion of the ceremony (mus. ex. 24).” Stutschewsky 1959, p. 216

“This ‘Gasn Nign’ is a very popular traditional tune played here by three violins, one on rhythm and two on melody. A gasn nign is literally a ‘street song’; it’s a tune played to accompany wedding processions.” Svigals 1996, p. 41

See Hora and Zhok.