Kale bazetsen (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 refer 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.


“Kale-Bazetsn: A contemplative tune form in free-meter, performed as a highly expressive vocal or instrumental, to accompany the traditional wedding ritual known as bazetsn di kale (seating the bride) or bazingen di kale (singing to the bride). Performed mainly for female members of the wedding party, the poignancy of the kale-bazetsn was intended to emphasize the seriousness of the occasion and bring tears to the bride and her entourage.” Alpert 1996b, p. 59. (Recording references included). 

Kale bazetsn.” Beregovski/Goldin 1987, #13-14. (Musical notation included). 

“Non-metrical genres included wedding ritual tunes such as dobraden’, dobranoch, some of the mazltov tunes, kaleh bazetsen (in Belorussia), and opfihren di makhetonim. There were also non-metrical wedding melodies, such as kaleh beveynen (known as ‘kaleh bazetsen’ in Ukraine), and various tunes played before the khupe (wedding canopy)...” Feldman 1994, p. 7

“[America is] a strange land with strange weddings. Everything is hit up and rattled off, without a ‘dobridzshen,’ without a kale-bazetsenish; a wedding-feast without a ‘volekhl', or a ‘pastukhel’...” [Byten, Grodno province, Russia, c. 1905-1911]. Rabinovitch 1940, p. 203

Mitsve-tants... The first melody is one of the tunes sung by the badkhn as he invites various guests up to dance the mitsve tants, the religious obligation to dance with the bride. Max wrote the second section of the melody in the style of a kale bazetsn, the ritual seating of the bride. The third section is a well-known khusidl (hasidic-style) melody which may have been associated with the mitsve tants.” Rubin and Ottens 1995, “ pp. 21-22. (Recording references included). 

“The kale bazetsn was an important ritual at the traditional East European Jewish wedding. It was usually performed by the musicians and the badkhn (wedding poet/jester), who improvised formulaic rhymed verses emphasizing the poignance of the young couple’s transition from single to married life. Tunes for the kale bazetsn are slow, florid, contemplative and non-metrical, similar to the doina. In melodic/harmonic terms, the kale bazetsn is most commonly centered on a minor chord and involves melodic exploration of the relative minor and closely related chords, in particular the sub-dominant; e.g. the first section of the present example (Dm-F-Dm, Gm-F-Dm). As in the last portion of the kale bazetsn here, the modulation to the Ahavo Rabo or fregish mode, characterized by the harmonic relationship D-Cm, is also not uncommon, and here sets the stage for the subsequent freylekhs (a lively dance tune in 2/4) in the same mode. Most kale bazetsn are follwed by freylekhs.” Schlesinger, Alpert and Rubin 1989. (Recording references included). 

“Violinist Leon Schwartz performs a kale bazetsn melody, and plays and sings the freylakhs (the second, faster part of the Tarras recording) as Yismekhu B’malkh’sheho, a portion of the Shabbat liturgy, commonly sung to a variety of tunes, as a zemerl (religious folk song).” Schlesinger, Alpert, Rubin 1989. (Recording references included). 

“Where is the father, that should witness this,/ where are the in-laws?!/ No kale-bazetsns, no minyan of ten,/ no musical strumming, no greeting the guests!]. Zunser 1964, p. 388

See Bazingen di kale and Bazetsns.