There are four types of Shofar sounds in contemporary Jewish religious rites – in the following order:

  • Tekiah
  • Shevarim
  • Teruah
  • Tekiah Gedolah

Tekiah

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.

Shevarim

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.

Teruah

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.

Tekiah Gedolah

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)

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