Halpern played trumpet and guitar in the New York City jazz scene of the 1960s, but became disenchanted with it and moved to California. There he began exploring the idea of creating music entirely for the purpose of relaxation, which he called "anti-frantic alternative" music. He began creating music which did not adhere to traditional Western tonality, but which instead consisted of static, minimalist pieces for electric piano inspired by Eastern music. He is a proponent of theories which emphasize the healing properties of music. He has been named by MTV as "the original new age artist", beginning his new age performance career in 1969.His first album was Spectrum Suite
, released in 1975 and which is considered to be one of the first true new age music albums. He began an alternative marketing campaign in order to raise awareness about his music as the genre was not yet widely known. He focused at venues like health food stores, yoga conferences, and alternative retailers. In Billboard Magazine
, John Diliberto stated that this album and Halpern's independent marketing techniques "pioneered the market". The inspiration for the album came partially from an experience Halpern had in the California Redwoods, as well as trance or altered states he felt were inspired by his moments there.
In the following ten years Halpern sold more than one million albums, which he released through his independent label Halpern Sounds. In 1985 he signed with Gramavision, and began releasing music through more mainstream labels. Gramavision also licensed Halpern's prior albums for sale in more traditional retail sectors, as well as alternative ones. Halpern has recorded more than 50 albums. The most commercially successful of these was 2000's Deja-Blues
, which reached #18 on the U.S. Billboard Top New Age Albums chart. He is also the author of two books, Tuning the Human Instrument
and Sound Health
. Halpern has provided readings from his books and lectures in accompaniment to his performances. Halpern was also an inaugural member of the Independent Music Awards' judging panel to support independent artists.Halpern's musical albums have been known to sell at a consistent rate for up to 25 years after their release, and by 1996 he had sold more than two million albums. In addition to being a recording artist, he is known as one of the founders of the new age music philosophy, which created the musical trends within the genre. Part of his philosophy was to replace more static noise providers like television or radio with sounds that resonated better with the chakras. A recent development in his music includes the inclusion of dolphin and whale songs into his music, in an effort to insert 7.8 Hz frequencies into his music.
Halpern was involved in the recording of self-help audio cassettes since the 1970s. His techniques included the use of self-hypnosis and subliminal persuasion, in order to try and release the listener's mind more directly from the stress affecting it. Often one side of his recording was meant to be played at night before bed, with the opposite side meant to be played in the background while a person performed their normal daily activities. Voices inaudible to the regular ear are imbedded in the tape, attempting to provide suggestive content to the mind. Halpern has also designed recordings that are meant to be played for up to 8 hours continuously, to be used by individuals experiencing medical distress such as those enduring childbirth or surgery.Halpern's music was specifically utilized in the self-help recordings of John Bradshaw, a public figure in alternative addictions treatment through the 1970s and 1980s. Part of his philosophy is that ambient noise coming from ones surrounding is psychologically and physically damaging. His book Sound Health: The Music and Sounds that Make us Whole
he commented that a combination of the decibels in the noises around us can combine to harm the body even in the home, and that noise from our neighbours can harm individuals even if their own homes are not producing too much noise. His books have led to Halpern being called one of the fathers of musicology.
In 1989 Halpern was awarded the Crystal Award at the first International New Age Music Conference. In 2013 Halpern was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best New Age Album for his album Deep Alpha