eShofar, folk tradition and technology.


A shofar is a ram’s horn used as a musical instrument for religious purposes in Judaism. Mentioned in Hebrew Bible and throughout the Talmud, it is played during high holy days of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the repentance period, and Yom Kippur, the atonement. Whilst similar to the sound of a trumpet, the sound produced by the shofar is not strictly musical, it rather provides a call to reflection and an alarm. In the digital era there is who has thought how to modernize the instrument through technology. The idea belongs to Bob Gluck, an American composer, researcher and performer who, using processors, sensors and a custom designed Max/MSP has transformed a simple horn into an eShofar: Electronically expanded, digitally processed ram’s horn. Nowadays there are two versions. The first one, connected to a sensor glove, focuses on finger movements as inputs that create sound. While the second one uses complex algorithms to create a chaotic improvisational system based on the live performed sounds. Gluck’s goal consists of encouraging people to cross boundaries between conventional and new musical aesthetics, traditional cultures and modern life, religious and secular sensibilities. Whenever the live performance keeps the ceremonial attitude, listening to the random digital sequence of tekiah (the deep sound) and teruah (the trill), on streaming video is not different from listening to many other electronic experiments. The value remains in the crossover of folk tradition and technology that modernize the past and sparks the creative imagination.