Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Studying the therapeutic aspect of sacred music took me around the world (France India) in 1986 and I wrote my first paper on this transformative topic the same year. Music in our culture involves sound (pitch, tone, melody), rhythm (the space between the notes is where you find the music) and content of text (concepts and meaning). I am pleased to share with readers three artists who help us transcend life’s challenges each featuring a different aspect of music: Sound from David Hykes, Rhythm from David Wilcox and Context from Leonard Cohen. I have shared my appreciation of each with you below. But I recommend… no, consider it a “prescription” a lifesaving RX, in fact!, for you to go to each of the listed websites below and bathe in the healing waters of these artists.
They didn’t teach Novalis in medical school, so when I first read the German poet’s words: “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.” 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 overtone chant, did I experience the resolution of “dis-ease” through music.
Hearing Solar Winds and many other of David’s harmonic triumphs followed over the next 20 years until he and I found ourselves descending, with not a little trepidation, into an ominously damp and reverberant cistern under the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle. “Redemption” is the word that comes to mind, were I to describe David’s underground work that afternoon. Neglected since the military fort above became obsolete, there the huge empty cistern had sulked for 50 years, its acoustic potential squandered until David playing its 3 minute reverb like an 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. “Helloooo!” is thrown out, only to bounce back from far away allowing us to feel a curious connection with the space around us – the mountain wall and the spot upon which we stand. But here on this CD, listen and enjoy the rhythm and pulsations of harmonic chant amidst the reverberations of this underground Taj Mahal. Again, David Hykes takes performance to a new and thrilling level and we are fortunate to be swept along and included.
But, I am a doctor so get to prescribe this CD for you. I can tell you why this CD is “good for you” actually “better” for you than most of the other “healing sound” stuff on the market. That other stuff is either theoretical and hollow, or it is soothing and trite. David’s stuff is transporting and initially disorienting but, as the ears of our heart gradually open, David’s 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 persistence 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 David’s, move us because they make house-calls to where we really live – to where our soul and spirit jam.
Since bathing in harmonic overtone chant, I have made a lifelong study of “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 Gyoto chanting monks 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 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 does harmonic overtone chanting create harmony in our lives.
I commend the listener to this extraordinary series of performances because it will shut you up; and allow you to breathe; and allow you to listen with your heart; and because it is entirely unique and catches the soul unawares, unprepared; and because the sounds within tip us up, way up, delicately upon the edge of growth and love and entire delight in the moment.
Bradford S. Weeks, M.D. afloat atop Whidbey Island, 2004 (insert for the CD Album Harmonic Meditations)
If there is a better guitarist as regards timing and enlivening the guitar so that artist and instrument actually create a living duet, well, if that guitarist exists, I haven’t heard her or him play. But David’s lyrics are also transformative. In addition to his astounding timing, his lyrics penetrate. And he is on task when he suggests prescribing songs for dis-sease. Watch the brief video at that link and then scroll down and choose your ailment then find the song which he recommends!
(Hint: Click the “play” arrow – upper left of screen above the lyrics – to hear the music while reading the lyrics)
Can’t figure out relationships. Check this out!
Need a sense of perspective? This is it!
Afraid the world will end (2012, Y2K etc.) This gives you perspective.
Psychotic? Listen to this
Problems with Anger or Road rage – listen up!
Trouble forgiving? This helps
Feel like you are broken? Have a dose of this
Hopeless and afraid? This will help
Want help sticking to the task? This is good medicine
Feeling too controlling or OCD? This might help
Trouble setting boundaries? this will help you
Still smoking? Really? This will help you quit.
Problems with addiction? Listen here
Trying to get to the essence of religion? This was powerful.
Not happy with your body? Seeking Plastic surgery??
Trouble making decisions? Hold it up to the light
For what else ails you: See the entire list
More of a king than Elvis, greater poet than Dylan (either of them) more genuine than most religious leaders, more a lover than most men , Leonard is an everyman poet who leapt across into intelligent songwriting then coyly “sang” from stage to stage, from lust to love, from coffee houses of Montreal to a Zen mountain top and back (and that is what counts: “and back” … who else comes back down off the spiritual mountain top with heightened compassion? Not Moses… he returned with rage. But Leonard did.) So take the time now to gather some solace from a companion of the highest order: A brother and a lover.
For human resilience: Hallelujah
Romance: I’m Your Man
The singing profession Tower of Song
and a nostalgic ending Suzanne …
Now, Dear Reader, please send me your favorite songs and poems that help you transcend! Light on!