Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tibetan Buddhist Music

Pliable over at On an Overgrown Path has put up a post on the residency/performance of a group of Tibetan lamas near where he lives in England. As is often the case, he includes some great photos. There's also a link to a CD of Buddhist temple music that looks very interesting.

I met Lama Tashi back in 1992 when he was with a group of Drepung Loseling lamas doing a similar residency in San Antonio and stayed at Wanda Ford's Willow Way, where I had the great good fortune to live during my time in San Antonio. I'd never been around Tibetan lamas before and was deeply affected by their deep voice chanting, their deep and spontaneous laughter, and how well and humanely they dealt with all the very unusual people they attracted. Decided then and there to find out more about whatever it was they were up to.

When Lama Tashi was here with me last week, he did a puja in the altar room and I was reminded of just how different Tibetan notions of music are. He rang a small hand bell when reciting texts, and the rhythms were much more speech like than dance like. Years ago he played a tape of hundreds of lamas at Drepung Loseling chanting evening prayers. Intonation was not something they were the least concerned with, nor starting and stopping together. Sounded like large ocean waves with all their power.

Pliable includes in his post a photo of two Tibetan long horns and it reminded me that the first time I ever tried playing a brass instrument was giving one of those a try in 1993 when I was back here in Virginia and helping Gangkar Tulku and his group when they were on the Sacred Music & Sacred Dance tour that followed the one Lama Tashi had been on. After a performance the lamas were letting anyone interested try to make sounds on one. I had beginners luck, was very taken by the sound and the experience, and the notion of my getting a French horn was born.

No comments:

Post a Comment