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Unsung Heroes: A Behind The Scenes Look At The Jewish Music Business

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The prolific composer does not play any instruments and has never studied music theory.

“Composing just came naturally to me. I love music, always have, even when I was a little, little kid. It is in my blood and I am a big fan.”

Like Waldner, Blumstein likes to take his inspiration from the lyrics.

“I like new words, or putting a new twist on words that people are familiar with,” said Blumstein. “Sometimes I have a lyric that appeals to me and the song just pops into my head. Mamleches Kohanim on Benny Friedman’s Yesh Tikva album, I just had the whole thing. And Batuach Ani on Shwekey’s Cry No More album came to me one year on Yom Kippur during Neila. I recorded it the minute I came home.”

The best part of being a composer?

“There is nothing more enjoyable than hearing thirty or forty guys at a kumzitz singing my song,” confessed Blumstein. “I feel blessed that I could be the shaliach that brought this song to the world.”

Yossi Tyberg

Yossi Tyberg

While every singer is always hoping for the next big hit, according to producer Yossi Tyberg, the most important part of any song is finding a composition that is well suited to the singer.

“You have to make sure that what an artist is singing is right for him,” explained Tyberg. “The same song and the same arrangement could be amazing for one singer but less successful on another. A song has to be suited to a singer’s voice, his range and his style. It also has to resonate with the singer himself. If a singer doesn’t feel a song, then it isn’t for him.”

Each song has its own personality according to Tyberg and for every song, the right decisions have to be made to maximize the song’s potential. The process is complex, painstaking and incredibly time consuming.

“There is a general template for every genre of music, but you always try to be creative and innovative and keeping things fresh is challenging. For every song there are always so many decisions to be made, aside from picking an arranger and the musicians. Should there be a choir and if so should it be an adult choir or a kids choir? Should there be another soloist? Sometimes even the smallest details add a touch of the ‘wow’ factor to the song. So much of what I do is very tedious, listening to tracks over and over again to find the best parts of each one. What motivates me is the end result. Music brings tears, it brings emotion, it brings simcha to the world. There is no question that it is a higher power.”

Avi Newmark (Photo by Sruly Mayer)

Avi Newmark (Photo by Sruly Mayer)

Both Tyberg and producer Avi Newmark compared the process of producing a song to that of constructing a house.

“It is literally like building a house from the first step, all the way up,” explained Tyberg.

“When you produce a song you have to have a vision, in the same way that an architect has a blueprint,” added Newmark. “Just like a contractor hires the best man for each and every component of the job, every detail of a song has to come together, from understanding which song best suits a particular singer’s strengths to which arranger is best suited to a particular song, to which musicians would do it justice.”

Unlike Tyberg, Newmark feels that is the producer, not the singer who should have the final say in song selection.

“As a producer, you can objectively view a singer’s strengths, giving you the ability to find songs that play to his strong points,” explained Newmark. “When you pick a song for an artist, you have zero ulterior motive because if the song goes well, it is the singer, not the producer, who ultimately gets all the credit from the listeners. I have produced songs that have become mega-hits, that have catapulted singer’s careers, despite the fact that the singer initially didn’t care for either the song or the arrangement.”

Newmark firmly believes that while a producer’s strongest skill set is identifying the right person for each job in order to turn out the best possible finished product, there is a certain innate talent to being able to orchestrate the entire project to its fullest potential.

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2 Responses to “Unsung Heroes: A Behind The Scenes Look At The Jewish Music Business”

  1. Leah Urso says:

    Great article! But not all singer songwriters need others to produce them. I produced both of my own CDs for Jewish children.

  2. Thanks for this article. I wrote the finales to two of our productions (www.raiseyourspirits.org) literally having just awoken and felt as if they wrote themselves, as if a greater Hand was writing them (well, typing them) through me…those moments of inspiration are unforgettable.

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