Hebrew Bible Music Scores

Here are links to all the scores of the music encoded in the Hebrew scriptures as interpreted according to the key of Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura (SHV). PDFs, Music XML, and MID files are also available through the resource page for the published e-books here. These scores have been generated from the text itself by a computer program. Feel free to perform or arrange this music composed millennia ago. When exactly, no one knows. For some ideas on composition using the music as a cantus firmus, see this post.

A paper on this subject presented at the regional SBL conference in Moscow, May 2016, is here. The presentation slides are here. See here for a recording of the presentation.

Go to the shared drive or the FTP location on the resource page, then click on the book you are interested in.

The files in the shared location are in Music XML and PDF. You need a music program to read the XML such as Musescore. This is a free program that installs easily and quickly on your computer.

If you are a composer, please let the harmonic and modal implications inspire you to set the words. In Hebrew or in English. Please see the volumes linked on the side bar for the complete text suitable for a base for an English setting.

For the Psalms I have used the modes as suggested by SHV in her work. All other chapters (with a few exceptions) have been completed in the default mode. If you want to see a particular mode for a chapter, let me know and I will run the program with the mode you desire. It takes only a few minutes to do any one chapter since all the steps are automated. Note that the default mode is only one of several and a differing mode may be important as a choice for a particular passage.

For a comprehensive review of the accents, and an introduction to the Bible from the point of view of the music, see my book. Contents are here. You can order here.

This is the foreword.

You have in your hands a readable music book. Reading a book with music between the paragraphs is a little different from reading a scholarly tome or a novel. It is not an exercise in speed. The eye allows us to see quickly, but the ear demands presence and time to hear the musical phrases in their sequence. The sweetness of the music makes this book a little like a layered cookie.

Chapters 1 and 7 and the Appendices are somewhat technical. You need to read them and come back to them but you don’t need to read them first. They are the crunchy part of the cookie. They describe the struggle to interpret the signs. Chapters 2 through 6 scan the canonical history in five stages: Creation, Escape, Home, Exile, Restoration. They are the sweet inner part of the cookie, that many I know would rather eat first. They summarize the story of the God of Israel and the people of Israel with many musical examples. Their music is an integral part of the narrative of the book. All the examples are in line and meant to be read and the performance imagined by non-musician or musician in the normal sequential act of reading a book.

Chapter 1, Languages, introduces the problem, a puzzle with over 300,000 pieces set for us by our ancestors. The puzzle is still in the box. We have only in the past 40 years begun to see how to unpack it. Many people have tried in the last 1000 years, but their attempts have been piecemeal and have not been widely known. So chapter 1 gives us a language for describing the pieces. We can see how each piece is shaped and we learn how to fit them together given their shapes. The primary language is musical. There is also some technical language and some polemical language as we encounter both the perceived difficulty of the puzzle and some resistance to a musical solution.

Chapter 2 is Creation. Creation is approached through the opening act of Genesis 1 combined with the character of Leviathan in the epic poem of the book of Job. It is the music that invites the comparison.

Chapter 3 is Escape. Escape from the house of servitude is approached from the call of Moses to the building of the sanctuary. Atonement and Oneness are introduced and the desire of Yahweh to find a home and the escaped to make such a home. The chapter ends with the commandment.

Chapter 4 is Home. Home begins with the integrity of Samuel and continues to the character and memory of the monarchy and the building of the temple. The chapter ends with riddle and parable.

Chapter 5 is Exile. Exile begins with the protest language of the prophets and the honesty of the lament. It ends with the character of the acts of a servant.

Chapter 6 is Restoration. Restoration begins with trust and return and continues with consolation and redemption. The five middle chapters conclude with praise.

Chapter 7 is an introduction to the deciphering key that allows this elegant musical solution to the puzzle. It contains some suggestions on performance practice.

Within the middle chapters are many single verses of music and a few larger sections that can be performed. Appendix 1 contains four full sections of the lectionary that have been performed in the context of a service. Appendix 2 compares other suggested solutions to the puzzle. Appendix 3 shows how statistics confirm the capacity and clarity of the suggested solution.

 For an introduction as interviewed for CBC Radio by Gregor Craigie see here.

Once you begin to hear the music of these accents, there is no need for much further explanation. An expressive musician can tell the story by singing the song. And what possibilities there are for performance. The music gives a dramatic new feel to familiar stories, instruction, and poetry from the Old Testament.

The folders in the following link should give you access to all the performances that I have found available.

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