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the world of music 44, 2002-2

Body and Ritual in Buddhist Musical Cultures

Guest Editor:
Paul D. Greene

ISSN 0043-8774
ISBN3-86135-732-1

 

Content

Articles

Paul D. Greene
Preface: Body and Ritual in Buddhist Musical Cultures

Margaret Kartomi
Meaning, Style and Change in Gamelan and Wayang Kulit Banjar Since Their Transplantation from Hindu-Buddhist Java to South Kalimantan

Phong T. Nguyen
Music and Movement in Vietnamese Buddhism

Tsai Tsan-Huang
Is the Wind, the Banner, or the Mind Moving? The Concept of Body in Chinese Han Buddhist Ritual Performance and Its Musical Practices

Paul D. Greene
Sounding the Body in Buddhist Nepal: Neku Horns, Himalayan Shamanism, and the Transmigration of the Disembodied Spirit

Martina Claus-Bachmann
Jataka Narrations as Multimedial Reconstructive Embodiments of the Mental System Buddha Shakyamuni

Paul D. Greene, Keith Howard, Terry E. Miller, Phong T. Nguyen, and Hwee-San Tan 
Buddhism and the Musical Cultures of Asia: A Critical Literature Survey


Book Reviews (Jonathan Stock, ed.)

Barbara Rose Lange
Review Essay: Reconsidering Romani Music

Amelia Maciszewski
Broyles-Gonzales, Yolanda. Lydia Mendoza’s Life in Music/La Historia de Lydia Mendoza: Norteño Tejano Legacies

Kaye Lubach
Clayton, Martin. Time in Indian Music: Rhythm, Metre, and Form in North Indian Rag Performance

Britta Sweers
Hughes, Meirion and Stradling, Robert. The English Musical Renaissance 1840-1940: Constructing a National Music; Zuberi, Nabeel. Sounds English: Transnational Popular Music

David Wong
Sarkissian, Margaret. D’Albuquerque’s Children: Performing Tradition in Malaysia’s Portuguese Settlement

Briefly Mentioned

Lindsay Aitkenhead
Koskoff, Ellen. Music in Lubavitcher Life. Music in American Life

Jonathan P. J. Stock
Fletcher, Peter. World Musics in Context: A Comprehensive Survey of the World’s Major Musical Cultures

Jonathan P. J. Stock
Aubert, Laurent. La musique de l’autre: Les nouveaux défis de l’ethnomusicologie


Recording Reviews (Gregory F. Barz, ed.)

Judith R. Cohen
Judeo-Spanish Moroccan Songs for the Life Cycle. Jewish Music Resource Center

Zoe C. Sherinian
Southern India, Dance Dramas: Kathakali, Teru Koothu, Yakshagana. Inedit

Rob Simms
Taherzadeh Vocals. Mahour Productions

Richard Moyle
Te Vaka and Ki Mua. Te Vaka, Spirit of Play Productions

Hankus Netsky
The Klezmer Tradition in the Land of Israel. The Jewish Music Research Centre

Catharine Macedo
Galicia, The Spanish Recordings, The Alan Lomax Collection. Rounder Records

Ramón Pelinski
Aragón & València, The Spanish Recordings, The Alan Lomax Collection. Rounder Records

About the Contributors
the world of music

 

Abstracts

Preface: Body and Ritual in Buddhist Musical Cultures
Paul D. Greene, Guest Editor

This issue of the world of music is among the first published anthologies to explore Buddhist music from cross-cultural perspectives. We cultivate a cross-cultural Buddhist musicology—an ethnomusicology of Buddhism—as we undertake focused inquiries into the ways in which Buddhist ritual practitioners around the world use music to guide, signal, and accompany a range of ritual practices related to the physical body of the practitioner, and also movements of the body or representations of bodies (e.g. shadow puppets) performed in conjunction with music. Buddhist musical practices accompany, inspire, and guide body postures and prostrations, hand gestures, and breathing rhythms, and also aim at guiding prescribed non-movement in some instances, as in disciplines of establishing stillness of the body. In addition, Buddhist ritual practitioners instrumentalize the body, for example, as they perform throat singing that makes audible the body’s resonant chambers, and as they perform instruments made of skulls and bones. Because the aim of this issue is to examine Buddhist practices cross-culturally, the articles here examine the Buddhist practices of diverse cultures, including China, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. The scholarly survey article “Buddhism and the Musical Cultures of Asia: A Critical Literature Survey,” which encompasses a pan-Asian scope, also presents and discusses the Buddhist musical practices of Japan, Korea, Thailand, Tibet, and elsewhere. Our focus is ethnographic, and as such the articles in this issue expand our knowledge of the world of Buddhist music, documenting almost completely unstudied music-cultures in Vietnam and in South Kalimantan (Indonesia), and understudied musical rituals and practices in China, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
 
Meaning, Style and Change in Gamalan and Wayang Kulit Banjar Since Their Transplantation from Hindu-Buddhist Java to South Kalimantan
Margaret Kartomi

This article examines the origins and development of a syncretic Hindu-Buddhist-Animist musical theatre form known as wayang kulit Banjar (Banjarese leather puppet shadow theatre), a complex combination of word, music, drama, stagecraft, movement and mystical ritual. Transplanted with its accompanying gamalan music from Java in the fourteenth century, it survives to this day among the Banjarese people of South and East Kalimantan, a mainly Malay society which adopted Islam from the sixteenth century. While Muslim influence in wayang kulit Banjar is only superficial, the story lines, puppet characters and texts preserve archaic Buddhist-Hindu-Javanese elements. Drawing on the literary sources as well as fieldwork interviews and recordings of performances, the author analyses the cosmological association and meaning of elements of wayang kulit and gamalan musical style. Transcriptions are included of four excerpts from the author’s 1993 recording of a Mahâbhârata-plot based shadow play entitled Terfitnah dalam Kejujuran (“Rumours Destroying Honesty”), led by senden dalang Abdullah and accompanied on a gamalan Banjar.
 


Bp Abdullah manipulating the gunungan puppet (symbol of the universe) inserted
into banana stems and held in front of a coconut oil lamp. A babun and a saronare
pictured in front. Other puppets, inserted in their banana stems, stand at either
side. Photo: H. Kartomi, 10 January 1993.


Wayang Kulit Banjar: The White Monkey (Hanuman), carved in Banjarese style
for Ramayana performances. Held in the Museum Negeri Lambung Mangkurat
Propinsi Kalimantan Selatan. Photo: H. Kartomi.

Music and Movement in Vietnamese Buddhism
Phong T. Nguyen

Buddhism is realized by a monastic community of meditators, preachers, and chanters. Introduced to Vietnam in the second century A.D., Buddhism evolved into these three elements only ten centuries later. They coexist, each self-absorbed in its own activities. The chanting school, called ung phu, practices liturgical ceremonies which include a complex system of rituals, chants, and dances. They are performed in over two hundred ceremonies at temples or public places on numerous occasions. This article will attempt to describe and analyze the process of rituals, aspects of the Buddhist chanting dancing rules, and the philosophical meaning of ceremonies.
 

Ritual performance in Vietnamese Buddhism.
 
Is the Wind, the Banner, or the Mind Moving? The Concept of Body in Chinese Han Buddhist Ritual Performance and Its Musical PracticesIs the Wind, the Banner, or the Mind Moving? The Concept of Body in Chinese Han Buddhist Ritual Performance and Its Musical Practices
Tsan-Huang Tsai
This paper explores various concepts of body and its role in the ritual practices in contemporary Chinese Han Buddhist communities, with particular emphasis on the concepts of “profane body” and “sacred body,” “moving” and “unmoving,” and individual and group. The physical movements of the actual body and stabilization of the ritual body are discussed, together with a possible classification of Chinese Buddhist ritual music, which attempts to show the inner relationship between musical practices and Buddhist theory. Music, as suggested in this essay, becomes not only the mediator of the ambiguity between the actual and conceptual practices, but also the medium between the profane space and sacred space. Finally, this study illustrates how an ancient term can be interpreted in different ways according to an individual’s understanding of “tradition(s).”

Sounding the Body in Buddhist Nepal: Neku Horns, Himalayan Shamanism, and the Transmigration of the Disembodied Spirit
Paul D. Greene

In rituals following a death in the Kathmandu Valley, members of the Buddhist Manandhar (Oil Presser) caste of Newars sound the neku buffalo horn, a specially venerated, even deified instrument. The horn is likened to a relic of the dead person through mythical and symbolic identification of the buffalo as a person’s incarnation. Many practitioners believe that the neku sound is heard and recognized by the dead person as he or she journeys through the murky stages of death, disembodiment, and re-integration into a new mind-body complex. It is recognized as a helpful sound heard during previous transmigrations, when neku rituals also were performed. The dead person, whose progress toward rebirth may be hindered, follows the sound to find advantageous rebirth, and the living find healing, peace, and religious merit. Its mystical familiarity transcends the usually inscrutable boundaries of death and rebirth, and as Manandhars contemplate it, they reconceptualize their own bodies and actualize Buddhist soteriological beliefs.

Jataka Narrations as Multimedial Reconstructive Embodiments of the Mental System Buddha Shakyamuni
Martina Claus-Bachmann

This article aims to unify constructivistic-systemic philosophy with Buddhist conceptions of embodiment. Music is analyzed as part of the constructive potential, through which both individual psychic systems and collective, cultural ones are created and maintained. The embodiment of a single psychic system in a sequence of incarnations is constructed in the Jataka tales in two specific ways: a) in the main actors of the stories, who are different persons but in the end one and the same, and b) in the personification of special qualities—like generosity, selflessness or honesty etc.—one of which the main actor of each story embodies, as specified by the narrative. As the continuity of a cultural system is always an act of memory and depends on the memory-related activities of the participants, the article shows how multimedial performances of Jataka tales preserve, in part, the multimedial network of Theravada Buddhist culture in Sri Lanka today. Music is seen as an important part of this network, and one sensory component in the physical process of transferring the embodied content of the ancient story to the contemporary audience. Description and analysis engage three very different kinds of Jataka performances that exemplify the rich tradition and show continuity despite musical change: a) the archaic story-teller, who accompanies himself with his rabana, declaiming the Serivavanije Jataka at a Vesak pandal; b) the verses of the Vessantara Jataka, which are sung or performed as a scenic play at funerals or other sad occasions; and c) a recent pop/rap version of the Sirisanghabo Jataka, reinterpreted by the male Pop-duo Bathiya & Santush.


Vesak pandal in Dehiwala, Sri Lanka, for the Serivavanije Jataka.
 

Wall painting in Sapugoda Temple, Sri Lanka, for the Vessantara Jataka.

Buddhism and the Musical Cultures of Asia: A Critical Literature Survey
Paul D. Greene, Keith Howard, Terry E. Miller, Phong T. Nguyen, and Hwee-San Tan

This article surveys over three hundred scholarly works that examine music and Buddhism, published in twelve different languages. As ethnographic and historical research broadens our knowledge of Buddhist musical cultures, inquiries into specific research topics bring both Buddhism and Buddhist music into sharper focus, particularly when pursued from cross-cultural perspectives. Buddhist musicology, in its ethnographic, folkloric, textual, historical, and musicological dimensions, has tremendous and broad-based momentum. It is a rapidly growing field with much to offer, particularly if lingering obstacles separating the many scholarly literatures on Buddhist music can be bridged.

 

 

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