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nigun

wordless song sung by Hasidic Jews as a means of elevating the soul to God. Because they lacked words, the nigunim were felt to move the singer beyond the sensual and rational toward the mystic. Such songs were spontaneously extemporized by a rabbi or one of his disciples, the entire group of men then repeating the song in unison. Melodically, the songs are strongly influenced by Slavic folk song, but they are freer in rhythm

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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