Duran, Simeon (ben Zemah)
- Don Harrán
(b Mallorca, 1361; d Algiers, 1444). Rabbi, kabbalist and philosopher. Music is discussed in three different passages in his Magen avot (‘The protection of the Fathers’) which survives in seven manuscript sources, not all of them complete. Three themes are emphasized: music in relation to speech; te’amim as distinct from piyyutim; and the spiritual importance of te’amim (see Jewish music, §I, 3(i)). Under the first the author described music as inherent to speech, indeed, ‘musical speech’ (ha-nigun asher ba-dibur) consists of three elements: consonants, vowels and musical formulae for intoning the sacred texts; the power of music was recognized in ancient Israel, where, after the example of King David, the Levites employed song for reciting the sacred texts in the temple liturgy. Under te’amim, the author differentiated between three kinds of melody, according to whether they were used for chanting the Pentateuch, the Prophets or the Hagiographa; he described their various syntactic, hermeneutic, melodic and rhythmic qualities. The ...