Friday, September 25, 2020

Welcoming Shabbat with "Mi Ha'ish" by Shofar Man Amit Sofer

We previously posted some videos of the shofar being used for more than the blasts during the Rosh Hashanah service, but until now we haven't seen it being used as a serious musical instrument.

Shofar Man Amit Sofer, a musician who plays the trumpet and the shofar, has perfected the art of playing the shofar to produce an amazing range of notes. This week Sofer released a a video with him playing Mi Ha'ish, an excerpt from Psalm 34, to piano accompaniment.

Mi Ha'ish is said during the early part of the Shacharit service on Shabbat morning.

Who is the man who desires life, who loves days to see goodness? מִֽי־הָ֖אִישׁ הֶֽחָפֵ֣ץ חַיִּ֑ים אֹ֘הֵ֥ב יָ֜מִ֗ים לִרְא֥וֹת טֽוֹב:
Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceitfully.   נְצֹ֣ר לְשֽׁוֹנְךָ֣ מֵרָ֑ע וּ֜שְׂפָתֶ֗יךָ מִדַּבֵּ֥ר מִרְמָֽה
Shun evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.

ס֣וּר מֵ֖רָע וַֽעֲשֵׂה־ט֑וֹב בַּקֵּ֖שׁ שָׁל֣וֹם וְרָדְפֵֽהוּ

  
















How does Sofer do it? After all, a shofar usually produces only one note. In an interview at the Weitzman Institute of Science in Israel, he explained:

First of all, we need to understand how I produce a sound from the shofar, since it is simply a horn that can produce two sounds at best. The key is having a sufficiently large mouthpiece. Just like in a trumpet, I need a large shofar mouthpiece so it would be comfortable for my lips. Once I have a comfortable mouthpiece, I can use my lips to make two basic sounds.

To get a wider spectrum of sounds, I use motions with my left hand on the shofar’s opening. I call these left-hand motions “the trombone effect:” Similarly to a trombone player who elongates and shortens the instrument in order to obtain different sounds, I play with my fingers, moving my left hand to and away from the shofar to get a wider spectrum of sounds.

When Sofer “plays with his fingers,” he effectively changes the shape of the shofar’s opening. This has a similar effect to the bell shape at the end of a trumpet, which causes low pitch sounds with long wavelengths to sound higher.

Enjoy, and Shabbat shalom!

A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.

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