This is a question for our Jewish friends on the SDMB, or folks who are well versed in Judaica. (Did I say that right?)

I have gotten into the shofar. Literally. Despite being a gentile-christian type.

I have always been fascinated by them when I have listened to synagogue services which are broadcast in our area (one of the local radio stations regularly features a broadcast during holy days), and seeing them in pictures etc. I also am interested in the connection between them and the “trumpets” of the bible.

I have collected two shofars. One is a ram’s horn, a little curley thing. The other is a longer horn, more straight with a slight curve and twist. I have been able to authenticate through the sellers of both that they were made in Isreal.

I play them, and can produce some interesting sounds, but I was a professional trombone player at one time in my life, so the physical aspects aren’t a problem.

But are there any materials available on playing the shofar? Its history? Proper use? Care and upkeep? Is there a particularly prescribed way to play the shofar? (like a method book or something?)

Thanks in advance for any advice or information.

“Its fiction, but all the facts are true!”

Wow, Sox, fascinatin’.

There are certainly prescribed notes for religious ceremonies and rituals.

I dunno if there’s a book or not, I’ll investigate and let you know. Stay tuned.

I think it’s called “Blowing the shofar.” (And yes, they sure do treat their help nice).

Well ,nick, you have pulled some that made even me shudder, and you may do worse yet,but that’s the worst shofar.

How to clean a shofar:

the only time I’ve ever heard the shofar, was at high holy days services, and all they did was blow it really really loud.

They did not play a tune.

I guess this doesn’t help, much, though.

Keeves, let me find me sumpthin to hitchew with. You had to post that link,now I’ve got ANOTHER intrigueing site to spend hours exploring.Oy vey!

The usual (ritual) use of the shofar is not to play tunes, but to blow specific blasts. However, I once heard a professional musician bluz shofar at High Holiday Services, and I tell you, it was like a melody. So, it can be done, it just isn’t often.

So, if they had a drum kit at Temple, it would be rhythm and bluz?

Shofar as I know, the Cantor of your local Shul ( Synogogue ) would be an excellent source. He/She will undoubtedly be delighted to find an afficianado. And, since it is perilously close to the High Holidays ( The Newport Jazz Festival of the Shofar World ), he/she will be up nights, waxing Shofardic. So to speak.
Ask around at a local Synogogue, they will steer you properly. :slight_smile:


Ever heard of the Klezmatics? GREAT band. I suggest you look for their Rhythm and Jews CD.

your humble TubaDiva
it ain’t just Hava Nagila!

No thanks Tuba I just had one.

Nickrz said:

Um, the drummer in my band daylights as the Rabbi at the local Jewish nursing home. We’ve been practicing in the chapel. Heck, he knows if anyone does when they need the chapel for religious services. I’ll have to ask him how good he is on Shofar.

I don’t think a standard one would allow much choice in notes, I’d guess just like a bugle. I wonder if you could put some holes along it and come up with some fingerings to get an 8 note scale. What is the intervalic relationship for a blues scale again, anyway?

Ranger Jeff
*The Idol of American Youth *

Tuba: years ago, late one night, sitting in stalled traffic in Roppongi, I was listening to “Dr. Demento.” The song he played was, at least so he said, one of the cuts from “Two Live Jews: Kosher as We Wanna Be.” I remember just that much about it, and that it was funny. Oh, and that it was supposedly two Hassidim from New York City.

Any chance you know of/have this one?

Jeff is correct, the shofar, being the horn of a ram or some other horned mammal, is pretty much like a bugle. The only way to change pitch is to play the higher overtones by tightening the embouchure and adjusting air pressure, or to use the lips to “bend” the pitch.

It is my general understanding that there are set tones or patterns that are played on the shofar, much like there are set bugle calls in the military. This may not be true, but it certainly would be keeping with Jewish tradition to have a “shofar call” that is specific with particular kinds of services. Its one of the reasons I posted the question.

“Its fiction, but all the facts are true!”

OY! for this I get out my “So You Wanna Be A Jew” books?? :slight_smile:

I’m converting to Judaism. Trust a newbie to ask all the pertinent questions :slight_smile:

Ok: the shofar is blown at the High Holy Days service (specifically Rosh Hashanah, which is a two day thing). If RH falls on the Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) the blowing of the shofar is omitted, because one might accidentally break a Sabbath rule because of the shofar. Observant Jews, for example, do not carry on the Sabbath (not books, coins, keys, nothing, outside of certain areas) and you might want to carry your shofar to shul–big no-no.

Anyway, the sounding goes like this:
shevarim teru’ah three times, then shvarim three times, then teru’ah three times. Each of this sounds, by the way, must be preceeded and followed by a teqi’ah. Bet that clears it all up, don’t it?

A shevarim is “like the sound of sighing”, a shevarim is “a series of three broken sounds whose combined duration equals that of a teqi’ah”, a teru’ah is “a quick succession of short trills made up of nine staccato tones equivalent in combined duration to a single teqi’ah” and a teqi’ah is simply “a straight unbroken sound that ends abruptly”

In my personal experience, it sounds like someone is sending messages in Hebrew morse code.

My source, by the way, is Isaac Klein’s “A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice”, long considered definitive. It also has enough Hebrew words scattered through it that I have no idea what the important bits say. So there.

Is that the one with “Hanukkah Home Boys” on it?

I also see there’s a Klezmer group named “Yid Vicious.” From Madison, Wisconsin. (You can’t make this stuff up, folks.)

Now, back to our original topic.

Near as I can figure out, Sox, you’re on your own. Someone suggested you speak to a cantor or rabbi, and that’s probably a pretty good idea.

Looking over the catalog at I didn’t see anything that would have application to the shofar. This is a nice little company, btw; I ordered a Klezmer version of The Nutcracker from these folks and it was something to hear. :slight_smile:

I suspect the shofar is like other instruments of this nature, such as the didgeridoo; there’s no organized way to play it, you just figure it out for yourself.

BTW, our old friend from our days on AOL chat, Fichchef, has a shofar; he plays it not only in his synagogue, he takes it with him to hockey games. I’ll drop him a line and see if he would have something to contribute to this thread.

your humble TubaDiva

Another word from the experienced mouth and ears of the SD MOT (member of tribe):
the Shofar is used in many ways…none of which have to do with easy-listening:
the previously mentioned play patterns explained:
T’Kiyah–a long, drawn out blast…used as an attention-getter
Shevarim–a series of three consecutive notes…used to open the hearts of those who repent
TeRuah–a series of at least 18 short blasts…used as an alarm…call to action, etc.
T’Kiyah Gedolah–a variation of the long T’Kiyah, but much longer…usually as long as the person blowing can play…generally the last of a series of the above patterns.
During our High Holidays (Rosh Ha Shana and Yopm Kippur)the “notes” are played in a pattern, repeating themselves in threes. The Rabbi will announce the note before it is played, so the player can concentrate on his playing, without having to memorize the cadence. Two of the more common patterns follow:
T’Kiyah…Shevarim…Teruah…T’kiyah Gedola

T’Kiyah…Teruah…T’kiyah Gedolah
…just thought you’d like to know, in case it came up on Jeopardy :slight_smile:

You are a child of the Universe…blah blah blah

From TubaDiva:

That would be the one.