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Are there any online sources for learning how to read the Sephardi Te’amim of Tehillim? While I can find recordings, I can’t find any list or descriptions of the exceptions and such—for example, when a Pasek is silent, or when a Ravia becomes Gadol, etc.

Even a non-internet source would help immensely—you can even record yourself explaining them. I’m just looking for a way to learn.

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  • Which tradition are you looking for? Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 13:26
  • Sephardi. The standard. Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 14:36
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    Are you looking for musical help or grammatical help? Your examples identifying which notes go where etc. is more of a grammar question.
    – Double AA
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 15:35
  • Musical. I meant which tunes apply to which Te’amim in which cases, like the examples I gave. It’s not like the Torah and Neviim, where each Te’am is always pronounced, and the same way. Tehillim has rules that apply in specific cases as to how the Te’amim are pronounced. Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 15:36
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    There are four kinds of revia but which one is where is a grammar question. Like understanding in Torah which is Pashta and which is Kadma. Once you can identify all the notes correctly, you can sing them appropriately with whatever tune you want. Similarly which line is a pasek (pause) and which is a legarmei (no pause) just like in Torah reading.
    – Double AA
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 15:53

2 Answers 2

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Reinhardt Flender: Hebrew Psalmody a Structural Investigation, for an overview of Psalm cantillation among Jews of North Africa and the near east.

...And for an understanding of how to recognize the signs, https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/12jzK6S9HojcCzTf4BOy8XEcD3NrO28WA

It's an Ashkenazi book, so forgive his ignorance of Sephardi and Yemenite practice. But nearly everything he has to say theoretically about the te'amim of the 21 and 3 books is pretty spot-on. You will simply have to substitute his melodic examples and speculations. There is also the issue that non-Ashkenazi psalm-cantillation can use a verse-melody... a kind of semi-improvisational or stock tune that is recited over words with minor te'amim.

But the performance practice of Psalm cantillation is at once simple and subtle and very deep and complicated. I've spent some time trying to understand the underpinnings of the various traditions, albeit as an aside to my main focus of assembling a database of melodies for the 21 books. Isaac Treuherz Montague is far more adept on this topic than I am. But he hasn't published anything on it yet.

I recommend checking out an introduction that I wrote to the topic of Psalm-cantillation on Cambridge's Digital Bible Research forum:

https://forum.cdbr.org/t/basically-how-does-hebrew-psalm-chant-work-summary-conversation-starter/742

But click here for a goodle doc version of the thread, if you don't want to have to sign up for their forum: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pMiTmUkKBjEU3cMG4UGfjd7u39DByqMc05J8tAXPMzg/edit?usp=drivesdk

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  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first answer. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Commented Oct 7, 2023 at 16:41
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Just to be clear, there is no "the Sephardi" te'amim for tehillim. Each community reads tehillim in their own way. There is a Sepharadi Yerushalmi method of reading psalms as part of the service that's pretty standardized, but it's not a technical proper reading.

The Aleppo Syrian Community of New York has published an entire class with recordings, examples of every ta'am with its name and melody, and anything else you would need to learn how to chant according to their tradition. You can find it here:

https://pizmonim.org/section.php?maqam=Tehillim

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