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The communal Torah reading is divided into aliyos, sections read (originally and still in some places by, otherwise) on 'behalf' of distinct people, in succession. The Torah is read in a tune, and each verse ends with the same tune — except that, in most synagogues I've been in, the final verse of each aliya ends with a different tune than other verses do. Why the change?

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Presumably this is a cue to the oleh that the aliyah is over, and he should begin reciting the blessing. If the kore were to simply stop reading, there would be a few seconds of awkward silence until the oleh is sure that the aliyah is over. Also, a kore who pauses for whatever reason would run the risk of having the oleh start the blessing too early.

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Not sure why it would be so bad if an oleh started early. Aliyot breaks are very flexible. –  Double AA Feb 10 '13 at 4:30
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@DoubleAA - That wouldn't be a disaster, but it makes sense that a kore would want things to go the way he planned and practiced. –  Dave Feb 10 '13 at 5:14
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@DoubleAA Yes, they're flexible, but there are places where this could cause confusion as to the appropriate place to begin the following aliyah. Not to mention that ending an aliyah too early can sometimes be halachically problematic, especially during weekday readings with short aliyos. –  Fred Feb 10 '13 at 17:57
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