A Nigun (Hebrew: ניגון) is a form of Jewish religious song or tune sung by groups. It’s a vocal music, often used with repetitive sounds, instead of formal lyrics.
Sometimes, verses from the Old Testament or quotes from other classical Jewish texts are sung repetitively to creat the Nigun.
A revival of interest in Jewish music was sparked as part of Hassidism. Every group has his own Nigun, usually composed by their Rabbi. They gather around holidays to sing in a group near to the Rabbi’s table.
Nigunim are usually sung at Hassidic gatherings. A large number of ‘Hassidim’ come together to sing and to discuss about spiritual topics. There is a belief that when you sing a Nigun, the soul of the Rabbi, who created it, appears in the room. The Nigun is not just singing, but also dancing and a very spiritual event.
One example of a group is the Nigun of Chabad that are admired across Hassidism for their intellectual depth. The aim of Chabad Hassidic thought is to awake inner emotional ecstasy.
Chabad writings talk of two types of Hassid, the practical “Oveid” (Hebrew: עובד) that serve The Lord and the intellectual “Maskil” (Hebrew: משכיל), the one who studies. This differentiation enables the intellectual aims of Chabad to be holistically united with emotional joy and soul-searching.