"David Hykes has opened a new dimension in music: he has in fact brought us the music of the spheres. Quite literally it is the music of overtones, of proportions and multiplications which hold sway throughout the universe and govern all spatial and mathematical relationships. As music, these wondrous sounds retain an extraordinary mystery, which would, as I always say, be appropriate for a landing on Mars or the moon, for they do not belong to man. They have not to be worked by him and must make every listener feel humble and yet part of the great system. "David Hykes and the Harmonic Presence Foundation offer concerts, seminars, retreats, school and conservatory lectures and residencies all over the world, and are therefore spreading a form of knowledge which joins the sciences at their most intangible level, where what appears as matter turns out to be energy. Finally, this music which David Hykes brings us, from the harmonic series, being, as he says the musical DNA, the source of the music we know, which gives us life, also provides an extraordinary "Genesis Chapter" for musical education at all levels."
--the late Lord Yehudi Menuhin.
TEXTS ON BEHALF OF David Hykes's music and recent CD "HARMONIC MEDITATIONS" "David Hykes is an inspired musician whose ground breaking and enlightening spiritual harmonies I have only begun to contemplate in recent years. His music is ecstatic to be-hold and yet also contemplative, woven of the divine light and pure energy that dreams, prayers, and all beings, are made of. It deserves the kind of listening, reflection and contemplation which Tibetan masters call 'the Three Forms of Prajna/wisdom', comprising a genuine Higher Education. Listening to his remarkable music helps me stop and meditate, hear silent echoes of emptiness, and feel closer to that Luminous Void from which all sounds arise." Lama Surya Das
"The music of David Hykes is both a profound experience and an education. He asks us to listen deeply. He teaches us to listen deeply and to hear the harmonics, the music, within each tone. As a filmmaker, I am working on a television series that will explore the universality of music. So I came to Hykes work with an intellectual interest in the overtone series. But nothing prepared me for actually hearing him sing. It is a visceral and emotional experience. One can feel the vibrations; one is moved into a different state of being and sense of time and space. The music is hypnotic in some way impossible to explain in words. I deeply love music and grew up in a family of classical musicians. But David Hykes has opened up a new musical world for me and changed my way of listening. His music embodies the universality of music. -- Elena Mannes, 8-time Emmy award-winning producer -director (with Bill Moyers and others)
"I listened to the CD yesterday in the car, and had to pull
over to the side of the road. Powerful stuff! David Hykes' "Harmonic
Meditations" are revelatory--in every good sense of the word. They
evoke for us some ancient, half-remembered experience of aliveness that
pulses beyond time, beyond place, beyond self--the very experience of
pulsing life for which we long. Hykes' subtly shifting harmonies seem
to trace the ineffable architecture of the cosmos, and draw us into a
journey that is both intensely personal and completely impersonal.
Here is a language both altogether new, and as old as the planets." --Stephen Cope
"Listening to the extraordinary music of David Hykes is like
listening to the symphony of silence that lies at the heart of being.
David's music helps us to experience in a new yet ancient way that real
"listening" requires not just a profound act of inner stillness and
attention but also a deep welcoming of the wholeness of life, including
all of its seeming contradictions and paradoxes. The harmonic embrace of
David's music--and the intimate joy and sorrow that one feels as one
listens to its resonance in oneself--helps awaken us to the breath and
breadth of consciousness itself." --Dennis Lewis, author of "Free Your
Breath, Free Your Life," "The Tao of Natural Breathing, and the audio CD
"Natural Breathing: Teachings and Exercises for Health and
Self-Transformation." --Dennis Lewis
"A blessed singer who explores the unseen realms where
vibration crystallizes into sound, David Hykes offers us an inner
journey into the depths of heart, the open sky of mind, and the power of
I first saw David Hykes and The Harmonic Choir perform at the inaugural concert in the rebuilt Winter Garden of The World Financial Center at Ground Zero here in New York City. It was a profound healing and transformative experience for the thousand of us there that night. You can now share this extraordinary moment of reconciliation in The Silent Ground offered in this collection.
When I asked David to create a Harmonic Chant score for my film series THE YATRA TRILOGY I knew from this experience that it would take the viewer into a universal place deeply personal and accessible. Harmonic Chant is beyond music it is cosmic resonance, immediately recognizable.
DHARMA RIVER, PRAJNA EARTH and VAJRA SKY are cinematic pilgrimages to the great spiritual sights of SE Asia and Tibet. They offer the sacred music of these legendary places along with local sounds. The Harmonic Chant score meshes seamlessly with the traditional music of these legendary venues as they are drawing from the same universal source. Places in the films that may at first seem exotic are made intimate by the vibrational presence of Harmonic Chant. It has been a privilege and a blessing to work continually with these sacred sounds now abundantly available on this new disk.
David Hykes' rare gifts as a singer and as a channel for sacred song are remarkably on display in HARMONIC MEDITATIONS. His ability to explore the higher selfless emotions and divine longing takes us deeply into the mystery of our own personal journey. The harmonics attune us to the vast scope of unconditioned wisdom nature within all of us. Let these vibrational offerings on HARMONIC MEDITATIONS lead you on the open pathways of meditative sound. Go deeply within the luminous resonance - letting it dissolve all separateness. Touch the harmonic source of the primal silent song." --John BushSONIC ABODE OF THE SPIRIT AND THE SOUL:
"Novalis, the German poet, said, "Every sickness is a musical problem; the healing, therefore, is a musical resolution. The shorter the resolution, the greater the musical talent of the doctor." They didnt teach us Novalis in medical school, and when I first read those lines, it brought me up short. Full stop. Sound, vibration, frequency these were the purview of physics and music, but not until I sat at David Hykes kitchen table in 1985 and felt my soul thoroughly drenched by a splendid crystalline precipitation of his Harmonic Chant, did I experience the resolution of "dis-ease" through music.
Hearing Solar Winds and many other of Davids harmonic triumphs followed over the next 17 years until he and I found ourselves descending, with not a little trepidation, into an ominously damp but incredibly reverberant cistern under the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle. "Redemption" is the word that comes to mind, were I to describe Davids underground work that afternoon. Largely neglected since the military fort above became obsolete, there the huge empty cistern had mostly sulked for 50 years, its full acoustic potential squandered until David playing its 44" reverb like a Casanova of sound, infused the space with waves and tingles that delighted our spines as much as it did the pillars that held aloft the ponderous cement roof.
We have all been astonished at times by an echo of our voice; we launch a "HELLOOO...," and its return from far away allows us to feel a curious connection with the space around us, both the mountain valley and the spot upon which we stand. Here on this CD, you can listen to the extraordinary inner echoes and pulsations of Harmonic Chant amidst the reverberations of this underground Taj Mahal, this inner mountain--the great INdoors. David Hykes takes the sounding of inner echoes to a new and thrilling level and we are fortunate to be swept along and included.
But, I am a doctor and so get to prescribe this CD for you. I can tell you why this CD is "good for you"-- actually "better" for you by far than the generally available so-called healing sounds stuff on the market. How can it heal if it sounds so hollow? That other stuff is either theoretical and thin, or it is soothing and trite, or it is --quite often-- a bad imitation, a distorted echo of David's profound original vision. His music is transporting and, as the ears of our heart gradually open, Davids sound becomes transfiguring and transcendent.
Just as David healed the stagnant, damp cistern by elevating its harmonic frequencies, he also brought healing forces to the empty spaces at Ground Zero NYC where loved ones worked and perished. Have you heard a soaring wail of grief from a stricken loved one whose soul mate has passed on - its resonance and purging force? Have you heard the persistent and not-to-be-denied cry of a child for its mother in the night? These sounds persuade and implore in their purity. They, if you listen closely, are laden with overtones and their overtones, like Davids, move us because they make house-calls to where we really live - where soul and spirit truly abide.
Since bathing in Harmonic Chant, a true abode of the spirit, I have made a lifelong study of true healing sounds which are an integral part of my medical practice. My wife Laura and I have sat with Gregorian chanting monks in France, Canada and across America. We have sat with the Gyuto monks chanting in Dharamsala, and found in all cases of sacred music a profound paradox: the monks chant in order to learn to better listen.What do they listen for? They listen for the inaudible whether it be the word of God or the Reality of another spiritual quest. Certain sounds open our spiritual ears, as Dr. Alfred Tomatis, another true original in the world of sound therapies, taught me years ago. If he is accurate in claiming, "the ear builds, organizes and nourishes the nervous system," then I want those I love (and that includes you too, dear reader) to hear more Hykes! As "like cures like" in classical homeopathy, so too perhaps can Harmonic Chant bring harmony in our lives.
I commend this extraordinary series of performances to the listener because it will help you quiet down and open up; it will help you find some real breathing room; and it will allow you to listen with your heart. Because it is entirely unique and catches the soul unawares and unprepared, the sounds tip us up, way up, delicately onto a new plane of growth and love and entire delight in the moment."--Bradford S. Weeks, M.D. The Weeks Clinic P.O. Box 740 Clinton, Whidbey Island, WA 98236
John Schaefer, WNYC-fm Radio, New York:"The great quest of Tibetan Buddhism is the search for Enlightenment, the understanding of how the fundamental truths of the universe the conventional truth of how things appear and the ultimate truth of how things really are relate to one another. The Buddha taught that this understanding, if we were able e to attain it, would reveal a surprisingly simple truth: that bringing harmony to the soul also helps (at least a little) in bringing harmony to all sentient beings.
The great quest of modern physics is the search for the Unified Field Theory, something that would explain how the most fundamental forces of the universe are related to each other. Einstein suggested that this relationship, if we were able to discern it, would probably turn out to be a surprisingly simple one perhaps something as basic as a single-line equation or a whole number constant.
To anyone who has fallen under the spell of David Hykess music in the past quarter century, these ideas may seem eerily familiar.Hykes has created a body of work that has challenged some of our most basic assumptions about music. Lets face it, by the time you have shuffled off this mortal coil, you will have heard an enormous amount of music. Some you will love, some youll hate; much of it will just flow right by, a distraction or a subliminally noticed (and often dismissed) background to the day.
Then there are those rare occasions when a piece of music is more than just a series of more or less organized sounds. When you feel like youre hearing some kind of coded message, and its so compelling that you want to understand the language, and therefore the meaning, of this music. That feeling has struck me only a few times during a lifetime of listening to and broadcasting music. One of those times was hearing David Hykess early masterpiece Hearing Solar Winds.
Like many Westerners, Id never come across the idea of singing overtones before. Not knowing what to listen for, Hykess music was easily missed. Oh, you could hear the sounds on the record (and yes, were talking about records this was the early 80s), but the essential music was in the interplay of the conventionally sung notes and the high, almost incidental-sounding overtones produced by each voice. In a sense, the listener made the music, by listening for the very elements that usually just filled out the sounds the harmonics, or overtones, within them.
It was like listening to particle physics. The point is, the listener shared responsibility for the music with the composer and his choir. Certainly other musicians had talked about active listening before, but here was the proof: an album of deep, shifting drones suddenly refracted into a glittering web of harmonies, reinforcing one another and suggesting the kind of wordless awe in the face of an awesome universe that colors so much of Tibetan Buddhism.
Using techniques of overtone singing, some borrowed from the ancient traditions of Tibet and Central Asia, and some developed in the last two decades, Hykes has taken us on a search for a unified field theory of harmony. Harmony, after all, has a physical/musical meaning as well as a spiritual one. And if, as he suspects, there is a point at which musical harmony and spiritual harmony converge, our means of reaching that point is likely to be something fundamental and simple perhaps something as simple as 1, 2, 3.
Simple whole numbers are all it takes to achieve musical harmony. One note vibrating twice as fast as another will be perfectly in tune. A 3-to-2 ratio will also create a perfect harmony. But this is not some New Age recipe for easy listening; higher ratios can be perfectly "in tune" yet sound quite eerie and dissonant. Thats actually a pretty good metaphor for spiritual harmony as well: the means to achieving it may be quite simple, but as the American Shakers knew, simplicity is a rare gift, and getting there can be a discordant experience.
David Hykes has created an increasingly complex vocabulary of overtone singing techniques, which he calls Harmonic Chant, and a sophisticated approach to the possible ways in which harmony, rhythm, and the visual arts come together. But over the years, his goal has been ever more simply stated, and its as much a spiritual goal as a musical one. Hykes writes elsewhere in these notes about his "harmonic" work in both senses of the word. For the moment its perhaps enough to note something he wrote in the Hearing Solar Winds recording: "the quieter we are the closer we get" an astonishing statement for someone whose work is about producing sound.
Of course its not really about just producing sound. And Harmonic Meditations is clearly more than an exercise in vocal gymnastics.The title work, recorded in an underground cistern near Seattle, is a suite that uses the unnaturally long reverberation of a subterranean space to suggest the unfathomable expanse of the cosmos. The bell, the breath, the references to medieval chant and to Hindustani raga the familiar elements of the ritual of a Harmonic Choir performance are all here. So too is the sense of a spiritual journey, and a humble but persistent questioning in the face of an implacable universe.
Music is, at its best, an act of spirit. David Hykes just acknowledges that fact more than most. At least, thats how it seemed to me when, in the fall of 2002, the Winter Garden atrium of the World Financial Center reopened after being destroyed in the attack on the World Trade Center, to which it was attached.
Given a chance to resume a long-standing series of new music events in the Winter Garden, I asked David to help re-dedicate the space to music. It was probably not a coincidence that the Winter Gardens vaulted marble and glass space is very much like a secular cathedral. And so, on November 20, 2002, David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir reconsecrated that space, and by extension the hallowed ground outside. The recording of that nights performance of The Silent Ground is a document of musics healing power a phrase Im hesitant to use simply because the term healing music has been co-opted by some fairly uninspiring music in recent years. Sometimes, though, the words actually fit, and The Silent Ground is a case in point.
How, Hykes asked in a recent conversation, does music help? How does music this music, some music, music in general how does it work? How does it transform the listener? And the musician? Hykes is well-versed in modern cosmology, and finds in the works of contemporary physicists an analogy to his own search for cosmic order and meaning. . (Modern String Theory even suggests that determining the existence of a photon or a quark depends on which mode of harmonic resonance the cosmic string adopts.) Hes also become more deeply involved with the Tibetan Buddhist roots of both his music and his own spirituality (the two concluding works were chosen by reincarnate lama and film director Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche for his new film "Travelers and Magicians"). For the scientist, the mystic, and the musician, the simple answers that we hope are out there remain a long-term goal; for the moment, perhaps its enough to be asking the right questions."
Harmonic Choir member and veteran New York producer and musician Joel Bluestein:
"I would like to thank David for inviting me to share some thoughts about the music on this CD and for the opportunity to join him in the making of it. While the environments that the music was created in differ, they are joined by the wonderment of hearing the human voice reverberating in the magical spaces that the harmonic journey delivers to us.
The sheer emptiness of the Cistern, and the remoteness of the location provide a nice contrast to the immediacy of the live performance in the Winter Garden in New York. Stepping down into the darkness, sheltered from the wind above it was as though we left behind the world and entered a secret universe. With only a few spotlights to illuminate us, we were surrounded, by the smell of earth and the muffled silence amplified with every movement. In that unfamiliar circle we found ourselves adjusting to the space between us and to the harmony around us. And although the terrain was somewhat eerie, the sound of our blending voices transformed both the cistern and us momentarily into the timeless, universal stream of breath and communion.
The Winter Garden was another matter altogether. Eerie doesn't even begin to describe the visceral impact of returning to that once-decimated, now-reborn place. I went down to Ground Zero shortly after 911 and walked by the Atrium at dusk. The sight of workmen high up amidst the tangled steel, their torches casting an unworldly glow against the evening sky as they deconstucted the building, is a sight I will never forget. Returning to sing was both a solemn and joyous event.
But as many who were there, I was struck by the enormity of the silence. Before, this had been a bustling hub with restaurants and itinerant businessmen just absent-mindedly traversing the space on their way elsewhere. Now, The Winter Garden is a destination all to itself, a living shrine. The restaurants are gone. The businessmen work elsewhere. I have always felt small in the that vast expanse but singing there this time felt deeply like coming home. Harmonizing with my brothers, surrounded by the beauty and grandeur, I hope you can feel the joining of the ancient with the new. The sadness giving way to optimism. The weight of history lifted up on the exhalation of spirit and moved ever so gently forward, away from the destruction and horror.
The composition starts from a haunting drone chord and very slowly evolves through the searching of inverted triads into a place of peace and soaring harmonic melodies. It was a moving experience for us creating this music and I hope it will be a transformative listening experience for you as well. Two very different performances come together here through the prism of David's unique and beautiful vision. Now all that is required is a listener ready to go on the journey with him.
So lean back, get comfortable, and be prepared to time travel in that unique Hykesian vehicle called Harmonic Chant."