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January 19, 2022

The Shofar in Modern Music: More Than Just An Ancient Instrument

The shofar originates from biblical times – it has been around for thousands of years and has carried the same meaning on its journey through time. From an ancient battle cry to a modern-day music instrument – the journey of the shofar and the symbolism spread far and wide. In modern music, the shofar has a new calling. Not only is it a religiously symbolic sound at the start of a track, but it’s also a soulful sound that represents peace, unity, and understanding.

Below, we’ll look at how this ancient instrument has evolved to become part of music that we know and love.

The History Of The Shofar

Before the shofar became a religious ornament and musical instrument, it was used by the Israelite army to signal danger or the commencement of a battle – horns were traditionally used in wars around the world to signal the start or end of a battle or to head warning.

The shofar, however, is most well-known for its religious meaning. People associate the sounding of the shofar the most with the celebration of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah – two of the most religious holidays on the Jewish calendar. During Yom Kippur, it signals the end of fasting. During Rosh Hashanah, it signals the Jewish New Year and the call to repentance – the chance for a new beginning.

It’s typically made from a ram’s horn, although it can be produced using any kosher animal horn. You can find great examples of a shofar on the Judaica store – www.judaicawebstore.com/shofars-C93.aspx. Anyone can own and sound the shofar as long as rules are followed.

Punk Bands Reviving The Meaning Of The Shofar

In 2011, the punk band Schmekel released an album with the first song called ‘I’m sorry, it’s Yom Kippur.’ At the start of the sound, you can hear the sounds of the shofar bellowing out – so although it’s being used on a modern-day music track, it still carries its symbolic meaning not only through the name of the music track but also through the traditional sound it produces.

Jewish punk bands have successfully managed to put a modern-day twist on the sounding of the shofar without moving away from its traditional roots. 

The Shofars Additional Musical Talents

The shofar isn’t limited to punk music – orchestras have incorporated the sounds into their sweet melodies. Composer Meira Warshauer decided to bring the shofar to her piece TekeeyahIt was a piece also produced in 2011 and was created purposely for the trombone, shofar, and the entire orchestra. 

The sounds were so beautiful they brought the crowd to tears – many commented on the unique, beautiful, and somewhat peaceful sounds of the shofar compared to other instruments. It was also commented that the involvement in the orchestra allowed people to understand its potential as a modern-day music instrument.

Even if its uses cease as a musical instrument – the meaning behind the shofar and its use on Jewish religious holidays are one that will carry on for hundreds of years. It’s a powerful sound representing a chance at a new beginning and a sound that represents music. 

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