I am not a lover of classical music but this album unleashes a torrent of hope & divine power. Still in the minimalist tradition, it may initially sound repetitive but repeated listening will reveal subtle and intriguing variations and shifting textures that become more prominent the more familiar one becomes with the music. There is no repetition of short patterns in Tehillim as the meaning and rhythm of the Psalm texts themselves determined the chromatic, harmonic & modal shifts, the rising & descending melodic lines and the constantly changing meters.
I have always found it to be an inspiring, even rousing listening experience that is good for the soul. The vocals sound like massed angelic choirs in places although consisting of only two lyric sopranos, one high soprano and one male alto, over hypnotic percussive patterns. The original Hebrew text is provided side by side with the English translation and one is overwhelmed when you notice the massive arsenal of instruments employed: maracas, marimba, tuned tambourines, flute, oboe, vibraphone, organs, violins, viola, crotales and cello to mention a few.
Sacred sound in the form of pure sounds, music, song and chant has been applied as medicine from ancient times. Some consider it the most ancient of all therapies. Pythagoras was aware of this. Others who wrote about the therapeutic effect of music on the soul include the Persian scholar Abu Nasr al-Farabi (872 - 951) who discussed music therapy in his book Meanings of the Intellect and Robert Burton in his extraordinary tome The Anatomy of Melancholy
Another potent source of sonic healing is the sublime work The Sacred Names
by Anjani Thomas from Hawaii. She plays keyboards and guitar while bass and percussion round off the sound, which is mostly gentle and acoustic. The moving Kyrie Eleison is sung in Greek & Aramaic; she also sings in Hebrew, Portuguese and English. On the exultant Blessing her voice really soars on the most beautiful melody on the album. The last track is especially enchanting with awesome comforting and healing emanations. Initially it made my hair stand on end; it is best listened to with a prayerful attitude.Holy Harmony
by Jonathan Goldman, subtitled Healing Code Tuning Forks & Ancient YHSVH Chant is a type of ambient music in which two forms of sound are blended: the tones of tuning forks cut to 9 frequencies known as healing codes or Solfeggio Tones and the vocal mantra chant Yod Hey Shin Vav Hey which is the 5-fold name of the Divine, chanted by Goldman and Sarah Benson
There are actually two instrumental sounds: a bell-like one when a fork is struck and a cluster of continuous & interweaving droning chimes of various pitches, obviously the aforementioned frequencies. The psychological effect of the music is immediate - it dissolves emotions like anger, anxiety, depression & irritation, replacing them with peace. I strongly suspect it has physical properties too.
The four tracks on Tehillim are Psalms 19: 1 - 4, 34: 12 - 14, 18: 25 - 26 & 150: 4 - 6. The first and fourth tracks are the most exuberant & celebratory whilst the third is the slowest. My favorites are the second ("Who is the man that desires life and loves days to see good? Guard your tongue from evil & your lips from speaking deceit. Turn from evil & do good, seek peace & pursue it") and the 4th which opens with the line "Praise Him with drum & dance," an immensely powerful piece that is the most beautiful expression of spiritual ecstasy I have ever experienced.
Literally, Tehillim means "praises." The word is derived from the root H-L-L (Hey Lamed Lamed) which is also the source of the word Halleluyah. The Hebrew word for a single psalm is Mizmor. Further information on sonic healing and music therapy is available in Sacred Sounds
by Ted Andrews, Words of Power by Brian Crowley and the aforementioned Jonathan Goldman's Healing Sounds: The Power of Harmonics