Most Ashkenazic Scripture reading that I have heard uses a different trope tune for each of these readings:

  • Shabbat, Yom Tov and weekday Torah reading
  • Haftarah reading
  • High Holiday Torah reading
  • Ruth, Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs)
  • Eicha (Lamentations)
  • Esther

2 (main) questions:

  • Why do we need a different rope for each of these? Why not use the same one for all? When was this decided?
  • Who created or organized the tunes that we use? I know that there are some variations such as Chaba"d, Germanic, etc. I'm more curious who and when the initial system of the various tunes began.

My question mentions Ashkenazic as that is what I am familiar with. If there are Sephardic traditions that follow this theme of having different tunes throughout the year, feel free to describe and comment on them, as well.

  • This is a really large question. And most of it can't be sourced, because a lot of it simply just happened. Since it can't be sourced, i will answer here in the comments. As far as i know, only Ashkenazim have different tunes for holy days. And it's unlikely that anyone officially organized the tunes. The shift probably happened slowly but surely as Western Music infused the Ashkenazi populace, and so generation by generation things started changing. And then people started trying to write downs how things were in their time. – Aaron Feb 5 '16 at 19:02
  • @Aaron I appreciate the info. Hopefully, I can get something a bit more exact. Shabbat Shalom. – DanF Feb 5 '16 at 19:48
  • Of course. These kinds of things are hard to find definitive answers for. It's like asking when Ashkenazim officially lost the usage of Ayin, or when did Sephardim lose their special melodies for the other books of the Bible. We know that it happened, it's just hard to find concrete details. And certain communities never developed special melodies for the other books. Which makes it seem like any special melodies were unique inventions of communities, rather than a tradition going back to Sinai. – Aaron Feb 5 '16 at 19:52
  • These are minhagim given over from generation to generation. The question is an in interesting one because it touches not only trop also minhagim, mesorot, etc. From what I heard( no source) that the מהרי"ל was the father of all minhagim by Ashkenazim. He was a great bal tefila all the nusacach what we bnei Ashkenaz daven is from the מהרי"ל – Nachmen Feb 6 '16 at 18:55
  • Start with Avenary's paper – Kazi bácsi May 4 at 18:27

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