STEVEN HALPERN
Echoes Of A Dream
(Steven Halpern Music)

 

It's well worth taking a listen to the 2019 album release of Echoes Of A Dream: Mindful Music For Healing And Meditation, composed, produced and recorded by New Age music pioneer and Grammy-nominated keyboardist Steven Halpern. Echoes Of A Dream is enhanced by guest artists such as Kristin Hoffmann (vocals), David Darling (cello), Michael Manring (Fretless electric bass) and bamboo flute master Jorge Alfano. Recording Echoes Of A Dream began on January 5, 2015, the 40th anniversary of recording Steven Halpern’s classic first album, Chakra Suite. 

Speaking in early 2022 about Echoes Of A Dream, Steven tells mwe3, “The beginning of a new album is always a magical time for me. As I listened to an evocative rhythm track, I laid down several different progressions on my Rhodes electric piano. A few months later, we added bass and multiple ambient keyboards”.

The 12-track, 70-minute album really came together, though, when Steven met the gifted Kristin Hoffmann. That was when he discovered a ‘hidden’ album within the instrumental album he had begun two years earlier. Without the bass and percussion, the music took on a more visionary, New Age vibe. Steven often listens and edits as he falls asleep, and receives inspiration in dreams, hence the title.

Track 3 of 2019’s Echoes Of A Dream is a selection called "Cannabis Dreams", that inspired multiple variations on 2021's Cannabis Dreams album. On “Returning To Love”, the late, great David Darling collaborates on a stunning collaboration that showcases the emotional range of the cello. “Holy Land Dream” features a haunting Middle Eastern vibe with the duduk of Jorge Alfano. “Ascending To The 5th Dimension” creates a celestial soundscape ideal for meditation and healing. “Residing In The Resonance” is the optimal setting for Steven’s soaring synths and Michael Manring’s eBow bass.

It’s a challenge to single out one track, because start to finish Echoes Of A Dream creates a reflective composite of sound wherein the tracks seem to flow into each other. The CD cover art and overall album packaging adds stunning visuals to the ethereal, spatial vibe in play on Echoes Of A Dream. stevenhalpernmusic.com

 


 

mwe3.com speaks to STEVEN HALPERN
The Echoes Of A Dream interview

mwe3: Echoes Of A Dream is the precursor album to Cannabis Dreams, so how are the two albums related?

Steven Halpern: The two albums are related because the music insisted on it. One of my favorite tracks on Echoes Of A Dream kept coming to me in dream, letting me know that it wanted to be expanded and have an entire album built around it.

I’d listen as I fell asleep, and would ‘hear’ in my mind’s ear a number of variations. All were different, and produced a slightly different experience, yet all began with the same basic Rhodes electric piano and synth tracks. For example, one variation omits the Rhodes, and you should not drive listening to that mix!

When it came to naming the album, it was a no-brainer to name it after the initial track that gave birth to so much creativity.

mwe3: How did you make the transition from Echoes Of A Dream to Cannabis Dreams?

Steven Halpern: Part of my creative process is to listen to music I’m working on as I fall asleep. I would often receive guidance or instruction in dreams, which I’d remember and then work on during my next recording session.

In this case, once Echoes Of A Dream was released, I continued listening to the entire album each night. At one point, the basic tracks that are “Cannabis Dreams” on Echoes Of A Dream spoke to me, basically saying, “We want to be our own album”. Over the next months, I worked on various mixes of the basic tracks. Some included Kristin, some did not. Some include my Rhodes. Some did not. Each one evoked an uplifting and unique high.

As many listeners figured out or hopefully read the liner notes, each track on Cannabis Dreams is inspired by a particular strain of premium. I would hear things in this semi-dream state, and that became the basis of the entire album. Now you know the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say.

mwe3: Echoes Of A Dream features singer Kristin Hoffmann on a track. Are you planning to record again with Kristin and do you keep in touch with her? What’s Kristin doing these days?

Steven Halpern: I am indeed recording with Kristin again. She is part of an international environmental conference, and we’ll be donating one of the tracks from our next collaboration, Ocean Of Bliss Vol. 2. I am also putting final touches on our upcoming EP, featuring the rhythmic grooves I mentioned earlier. You’ll have to ask her directly for her news.

mwe3: How did you come upon the idea of tuning the music on Echoes Of A Dream to the Earth’s Schumann resonance and what is the difference in the tuning between A = 440Hz and A = 432Hz. How does the ear tell the difference and how does that tuning compare to the tunings you’ve used on other albums? Can you give an example of a track where you can hear this tuning?

Steven Halpern: As a pioneer in the field of sound healing, I have presented seminars at most all of the major sound healing and quantum science conferences. At some of these, the early research and theories concerning the 432 Hz Vs. 440 tuning was covered. I needed to experience the difference, if any, for myself. Since I control all the rights to my own music, I figured that was the best choice.

The harmonics of music tuned to 432 Hz is a closer harmonic of the Earth’s Schumann resonance. However, bad music played at 432 Hz is not as healing as good music played at 440 Hz.

I have released several albums in both formats, like Sound Healing 2.0 and Sound Healing 432 Hz. So far, the research is inconclusive.

Obviously, music tuned to 432 Hz sounds a little lower in pitch, but all the tones should be similar. Where I really notice the difference is on my recent Om Zone 432 Hz compared to Om Zone 2.0 recorded at 440. My voice opened up much more easily and with more resonance at 432 Hz.

mwe3: Tell us why you chose that title Echoes Of A Dream. Is naming an album a kind of art form in and of itself? The title has a very Deja-Vu vibe to it. Do you dream often and do you ever write in response to your dreams?

Steven Halpern: Yes, it is an art form, as is the cover art I chose or help design. The title has a very Deja-Vu vibe to it. Do I dream often and do I ever write in response to my dreams? No… I don’t ‘write’ but I ‘hear’ additional layers of music that I can recall when awake. I record them on my next studio session.

mwe3: David Darling plays cello on a track here called “Returning To Love”. David gets such a great sound. He recently passed away.

Steven Halpern: I met David in 1975, and wanted to record with him for decades. We finally got into the studio, and recorded some extraordinary tracks on my Relaxation Suite album. I’ll be putting out an EP with all my collaborations with him this year.

The sound of his cello that Warren Kahn, our studio engineer, produced was so much better than anything David had had before, that David asked to buy the settings so he could use them. Warren gave them to him for free. David used them on his next album, and it won the Grammy. We didn’t get any credit as engineer or producer, but we should have. (lol)

mwe3: Tell us about Jorge Alfano on bamboo flute and Michael Manring also plays on a track here. And what did co-producer Warren Kahn bring to the Echoes Of A Dream recordings? Seems like a tight band.

Steven Halpern: Jorge is a master musician/sound healer from Argentina, now living in South Florida. He is a master on Shakuhachi as well as bansuri. We met at a sound healing conference in 1997 and immediately resonated in sync. He has collaborated on several albums, including Deep Theta 2.0 I’ll be releasing our own album in the near future.

I imported Michael’s brilliant melodies from the original song he played on. That’s part of the fun of being producer. I knew it would fit, and it did. There was never a band. We never played in the same room in the same time. Our tracks stretch over years.

It's my gift to be able to keep track of all this music in my head. Sometimes I receive guidance in dreams as to which track from which album from 2009, for instance, can be overlaid on a new track to come up with a brand new composition. That’s why the album is titled Echoes Of A Dream.

mwe3: Is the keyboard gear you use on Echoes Of A Dream the same as what you played on the Cannabis Dreams album?

Steven Halpern: The keyboard gear is essentially the same: my white Rhodes Mark 7 electric piano, and several synths. The key, however, is how I EQ each sound, and also, the chain of reverb of echo settings that Warren comes up with after he buys a new updated ProTools or other feature.

No one else has been able to copy my Rhodes sound. In an age when so many players sound alike, I can always tell right from the first note, for example, when I hear my music on Spotify or other streaming platform, that it is my music. There is a special quality to the sound, and the healing energy that is received simultaneously.

mwe3: Tell us about “Residing In The Resonance”. It’s one of your best and with Manring too. Are there a lot of key changes in that song? Sounds like a lot of alternating harmonics. Tell us more about Michael Manring.

Steven Halpern: No key changes.  Michael is a master bass player who created incredible melodies and harmonics with his instrument. I continue to find inspiration from the tracks he recorded in 2010. When I had the opportunity to study with jazz legend Ron Carter at University of Buffalo in 1968, one of the ‘tests’ was to take the same five notes of a pentatonic scale or melody and reharmonize them in multiple variations. That continues to inspire me today. Mozart did that, too...

mwe3: It seems like he’s the most popular bass players in the US today. What’s he like to work with?

Steven Halpern: Michael was so easy going and open to explore the possibilities. He played these tracks first on my album Paradigm Shift to duet with my grand piano. No one ever figured that out! He also played some funky bass lines on other tracks on the album, by the way.

mwe3: What inspired the 3-part “Sonic” suite: “Sonic Levitation”, “Sonic Sanctuary” and “In Tune With The Infinite”? Did you want to showcase your Fender Rhodes piano for those 3 tracks? How has your Rhodes been these days? Is it hard to maintain? I imagine there’s always refinements added to it.

Steven Halpern: I did indeed want to showcase my unique Rhodes instrument. Fender is no longer part of the name, by the way. Harold Rhodes bought his rights back before he passed. I was invited to be part of a memorial concert in L.A. as one of the “Rhodes Scholars”, and Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and others were going to be on the bill.

Alas, funding never materialized, so the concert never happened. But Harold told me he was so appreciative that I had done so much to promote and popularize the instrument for healing.

That was his original intention, by the way, for soldiers to use in hospital wards to help their recovery.

mwe3: How does Echoes Of A Dream place in your musical history and do you have any special memories of recording the album? What albums of yours in the periods in the past have had special meaning and or memories in your lifetime.

Steven Halpern: I answer that question in detail in my forthcoming memoir, so I won’t give away all the secrets now. I will say, however, if you read the liner notes of Chakra Suite, Gifts Of The Angels, Cannabis Dreams, Ancient Echoes and Eastern Peace you’ll learn some of my special memories. Readers can find PDFs of my albums only on my website, so if they are interested, they can tune in.

mwe3: Tell us your plans for 2022. Will you release a new album in 2022 and would you consider putting together a retrospective / history of your music on CD?

Steven Halpern: I’m currently working on Ocean Of Bliss Vol. 2 and Cannabis Dreams Vol. 2. I already released two retrospectives on CD of my 45 year career. Among Friends, which includes healing, relaxing music as well as jazz and world grooves. Sound Healing 432 Hz is a ‘best of’ my healing music, with collaborations with David Darling, Georgia Kelly, Jorge Alfano, etc.

 

 




 

 
   
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