There are four types of Shofar sounds in contemporary Jewish religious rites – in the following order:
- Tekiah Gedolah
The Tekiah is a long sound, but due to the mouth’s position and breath length, most Toke’im (Shofar blowers) end the long sound with an additional sound, sliding to a higher tone. This is a Tekiah ending with a Glissando, either as a deliberate ornamentation or due to technical difficulties. There is also a Tekiah with a Glissando at its beginning.
Already in the Talmud (Bavli 34, 2) the Shevarim are described as groaning and moaning sounds. The Shevarim sounds like a howl: it is composed of three short and sharp blows sounding like a moan.
The Teruah is (according to Rabbi Yitzhak Arama) the sign of anxiety and sorrow. It is composed of more and shorter units than the Shavarim. The Ashkenazi Jews produce Staccato-like, rhythmical units, while the Oriental Jews produce a kind of wavy tremolo, composed on a long sound (like a chain). Normally, in order to produce the long tone’s vibrations, the Shofar blower uses his tongue.
At the end of the series: Tekiah, Shevarim and Teruah (or TST in short), it is customary to blow the Tekiah Gedola (grand blowing): a very long sound, depending on the blowers blowing capability. As a rule, the Tekiah Gedolah is three times longer than the Tekiah.
* glissando • noun (pl. glissandi /glisandi/ or glissandos) Music, a continuous slide upwards or downwards between two notes.
— ORIGIN Italian, from French glisser ‘to slip, slide’. (Compact Oxford English Dictionary )
Shofar maker, Zvika Bar Sheshet examines the sound of a Shofar made of a Bushbuck horn. (from the Bar Sheshet collection)