Instruments used during dharma functions in Chinese Buddhism

Instruments used during dharma functions in Chinese Buddhism

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Oct 27, 2013 8:42 am

We all know about the famour mu yu or wooden fish, but what about the small cymbals, various drums and so forth that are used?

The chanted liturgy of the Chinese tradition is unique and uplifting, I'd also welcome any links to articles regarding its history and development.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
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Re: Instruments used during dharma functions in Chinese Budd

Postby plwk » Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:37 am

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Re: Instruments used during dharma functions in Chinese Budd

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Oct 27, 2013 4:20 pm

Thanks plwk! This is fantastic stuff, I will give it a read!
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Instruments used during dharma functions in Chinese Budd

Postby Indrajala » Sun Oct 27, 2013 4:49 pm

AFIK the wooden fish appears around the Song Dynasty and only became popular somewhat later on.
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Re: Instruments used during dharma functions in Chinese Budd

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Oct 27, 2013 4:54 pm

Ven. Indrajala were these used across all religious traditions in China or were they unique to Buddhism?
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
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Re: Instruments used during dharma functions in Chinese Budd

Postby Indrajala » Sun Oct 27, 2013 5:01 pm

Good question.

I think the wooden fish was definitely limited to Buddhism, but I am not 100% sure as my knowledge of institutional Daoism is limited.

Chinese Buddhism seems to have borrowed a lot of elements from Chinese court music and ceremonies. These were based on various Chinese classics, though of course they evolved over time as well.

The modern Chinese proceedings I've observed have less bells than what would have been employed at court as per the classical prescriptions.
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Re: Instruments used during dharma functions in Chinese Budd

Postby Huifeng » Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:05 am

JKhedrup wrote:Ven. Indrajala were these used across all religious traditions in China or were they unique to Buddhism?


*Nowadays* you'll find similar or identical instruments across the board of Chinese religious practice.
My guess would be that this kicked in quite a long time back.

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Re: Instruments used during dharma functions in Chinese Budd

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Oct 28, 2013 6:56 am

Thanks Ven. Huifeng.

I was always really intrigued by the instruments, they seem to require a fair amount of concentration and calm to play correctly though, so I was a bit too intimidated to try.

The Chinese liturgical music is pretty much my favourite from any of the Buddhist traditions- we have some nice chanting in Tibetan but generally it is not as "musica" as what you find in the Chinese temples. At CTTB they tried to chant a few of the prayers in English but it wasn't nearly as nice so I always preferred the Chinese even though I had to consult the English booklet to understand what was going on.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2327
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Instruments used during dharma functions in Chinese Budd

Postby rory » Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:56 am

I adored learning Japanese Shomyo (five tonal chanting imported from China). You might enjoy this mindblowing video of Gregorian chant & Shomyo chanting the Jinriki chapter of the Lotus Sutra. It's the Schola Gregoriana Pragensis and Gyosan-ryu Tendai Sojo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iAKxC4K5AE
or buy
http://www.amazon.com/Buddhist-Shomyo-G ... B005LD05RE
gassho
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Re: Instruments used during dharma functions in Chinese Budd

Postby Huifeng » Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:13 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Thanks Ven. Huifeng.

I was always really intrigued by the instruments, they seem to require a fair amount of concentration and calm to play correctly though, so I was a bit too intimidated to try.

The Chinese liturgical music is pretty much my favourite from any of the Buddhist traditions- we have some nice chanting in Tibetan but generally it is not as "musica" as what you find in the Chinese temples. At CTTB they tried to chant a few of the prayers in English but it wasn't nearly as nice so I always preferred the Chinese even though I had to consult the English booklet to understand what was going on.


Hi,

A fair amount of concentration, yes. But, once one gets the gist of it, it is fairly possible to do it while being totally distracted internally at the same time. I should know -- ha! I personally find this less so with the vocalic chanting -- not because chanting is necessarily more difficult per se, but because it involves more of a physical input, ie. coordinating the breath with the chant. So, once the breath gets into mode, then of course the mind follows.

I think that while the greater "musical" qualities have the flip side, though, of making it more difficult to convert to another language. I've mentioned recently, that in one of my last discussions on such matters with Rev. Heng Sure at the CTTB, after all the musical experience and expertise that he has, he is now tending towards a simple vocals only freeform chanting. Quite possibly his association with Amaravati plays a fair role in that. However, the tricky challenge is there. I've been contemplating this for some time, but my musical skills have long since bitten the dust many years ago... I'm still working on this, though.

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