Saturday, September 25, 2004

Tekiah Gedolah

It has become customary for the person sounding the shofar to prove his mettle and wind capacity when sounding this final note of the day. The tekiah gedolah represents the shofar of Jewish redemption, of messianic better times. The prophet Isaiah promised us that on the day of human deliverance the shofar gadol - the great shofar of redemption and hope will be sounded.

I played a long note tonight, but certainly not as long as I had the capacity for. I still am uncertain whether to crescendo the note to a loud climax and cut it off, or to taper the sound. Doing the latter allows for a longer note, and is more musically satisfying to me. But the purpose of the shofar is not musical, it is theological. I tapered the sound this year, and cut the note off when the sound threatened to get too weak. But maybe a niente effect is appropriate, to suggest the sound never really ends. Any suggestions out there?


Anonymous said...

I like ending with with a lift, a final surge of air pressure that raises the pitch and give the tekiah gedolah a dramatic flourish. I associate this with the biblical text from Exodus that the "sound of the horn grew louder and louder".

Michael Chusid said...

There is a good discussion about shofar blowing in "Hearing Shofar: The Still Small Voice of the Ram's Horn", especially in Volume Two of the book. You can download it at