Music of the Bible

La Musique de la Bible révélée
notation millénaire décryptée
Suzanne Haïk Vantoura
Harmonia Mundi HMU 989 [LP]
Harmonia Mundi HM 40 989 [Cass.]
Harmonia Mundi "musique d'abord" HMA 190 989 [CD]
Harmonia Mundi "musique d'abord" HMA 195 989 [CD]

Reissued in: Harmonia Mundi "musique d'abord" 290885/87 (3 CDs) - Ces musiques du fond des âges


  1. Psaume 23 "L'Éternel est mon berger"
  2. Bénédiction sacerdotale - Nombres VI, 22
  3. Psaume 24 "A l'Éternel appartient la terre"
  4. Cantique des Cantiques - I, 1
  5. Psaume 6
  6. Lamentation - I, 1
  7. Psaume 133
  8. "Écoute Israël" - Deutéronome VI, 4
  9. Psaume 150 "Alleluia!"
  10. Élégie de David - II Samuel I, 19
  11. Psaume 122 "Je suis joyeux lorsqu'on me dit"
  12. Psaume 123 "Vers toi j'élève mes regards..."
  13. Esther V, 1
  14. Le buisson ardent - Exode III, 1

Performers: Adolphe Attia (tenor), Michel Scherb (baritone), Emile Kaçmann (bass), Choirs directed by Maurice Benhamou, Martine Géliot (celtic harp), Raymond Cousté (lute), Gérard Perrotin (percussion), Pierre Pollin (trumpet), Suzanne Haïk Vantoura (instrumental realization)

Playing time: 39'

Recording site and date:
Unknown [11/1975];
Rel.: 1976 (HMU), 1980 (HM 40), 1986 (HMA 190), 2000 (HMA 195).

[1]-[2], [4], [6], [9], [13] Harmonia Mundi "Century" HMX 290 8163 [CD] A History of Music, Century 1: Ces musiques du fond des âges / Music from the earliest times - La musique de l'Antiquité / Music of the Ancient World

The present recording is based upon the work of Suzanne Haïk Vantoura to decode the monophonic notation which accompanies the Hebrew Old Testament. It has been accepted fairly broadly, although not by everyone, and gives melodies for the entire body of verses. A very small selection is performed here.

The age of the notation is one topic under dispute. The oldest manuscripts actually date only to c.900, although the music itself is said to date to the era of King David. It is conjectured that it was recopied from older sources, and there is some discussion of the notation in written sources which might indicate this possibility. Biblical scholarship is, of course, a highly charged and controversial field.

The accompaniment is more modern in conception, based on some descriptions of instrumental ensembles in the reign of King David. I find it rather dubious, but not without artistic merit. The diction in the melodies also strikes me as distinctly modern, although the idea of metrical accent is contained in the notation, as far as that goes. While the melodic movement itself may very well accurately reflect the original psalms, the overall production certainly contains many other elements especially in the accompaniment and resulting harmonies.

A larger series of recordings based on the same transcription system has been performed by Esther Lamandier with the collaboration of Suzanne Haïk Vantoura. These have appeared on Harmonia Mundi and Alienor labels.

Psaumes de David en hébreu biblique
Esther Lamandier
Alienor 1041
Cantiques des Cantiques de Salomon
Esther Lamandier
Alienor AL 1045
Music of the Bible vol. II
Esther Lamandier
Alienor AL 1050
Music of the Bible vol. II
Esther Lamandier
Alienor AL 1051

And a related item:

Visages antiques d'Istraël
Myra Zakaï
Alienor AL 1092

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Todd M. McComb