Song: Niggun for the Moon

“Niggun for the Moon,” song info for the ninth track of Ilona Tipp’s 2018 album “Unadorned”

"Niggun for the Moon"

Ilona Tipp, vocals


A niggun is a wordless melody meant to be sung, and it comes from the Jewish music tradition. (Niggun is Hebrew, aka "nign" in Yiddish.) I studied niggunim and Jewish Music with Hankus Netsky, founder of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and I am deeply indebted to him for his guidance through exploration of Jewish Music. 

Niggunim are always vocal music: they are to be sung with voices, not played with instruments, but the use of nonsense syllables instead of words is a key component. The idea is to reach for something spiritual that can only be accessed with melody, and is beyond words. 

I wrote this in December 2017, as I was staring out the window at the super moon, huge in the sky. Like other niggunim, it is semi-improvisational. It's different every time I sing it live, and in this take that is featured on the album, I left out an entire section (that sometimes appears, and sometimes doesn't). It is a song of yearning in the moment, and while it isn't always a religious experience for me, I do think of it as reaching for something higher when I sing it. 

The take I chose for this recording was the very last take of my 2-day recording session in February 2018. It was the second take of this song. I was happy with the first take, my voice was almost shot, but I said, what the heck. Let's just do another take and I'll go for broke. It ended up being the more passionate and moving of the two takes, and though my voice is definitely rough and tired in some places, I feel it embodies the emotions I was hoping to express in this song.

"Niggun for the Moon" music by Ilona Tipp, copyright 2018 Missive Maven Music

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