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I decided to go with Hinduism, which is the religion I was raised with. Hinduism uses Bhajans, which are prayers that are written into song to praise the Gods. They can be done either vocally or with instrumental accompaniment. Usually vocal praise is done at home and in temples there will be instrumental accompaniment. This isn’t for any cultural reason, because, at least in my family, no one plays instruments that would accompany a Bhajan.
The Bhajan I chose is the Hanuman Chalisa, which is meant to sing the prasies of Lord Hanuman. It is sometimes either monophonic or polyphonic, depending on the amount of people there. Singing can be done by anyone. There is also musical accompaniment, a sitar, tabla and harmonium are usually played in any Bhajan.
I will be discussing the Greek Orthodox religion which I am personally a part of. The music played in the Greek Orthodox Church is Byzantine chant. It used Greek text and took inspiration from “the artistic and technical productions of the classical age, on Jewish music, and inspired by the monophonic vocal music that evolved in the early Christian cities…” (https://www.wsgoc.org/our-faith/music). This music is sung during Church service and prayer.
Agni Parthene (O Virgin Pure) is a chant that is sung when praising the Mother of God and during evening service. This is an example of the Byzantine chant used. It is monophonic and the vocalists are loud to make sure it echoes around the Church. The lyrics are often repeated. The song is slow paced.
For this blog I’d like to talk about Buddhism and how music is used within their religious practice. Buddhism is a largely known and practiced religion. People who follow the religion believe that “ human life is one of suffering, and that meditation, spiritual and physical labor, and good behavior are the ways to achieve enlightenment, or nirvana. Buddhist practices often contain a chant, the use of instruments or sometimes even dances. Music is treated as an offering to Buddha and is incorporated in the means of memorizing Buddhist texts and meditation.
A way that Buddhist people like to incorporate music into their daily life is using it to help calm themselves while meditating. I could not find a specific song, but I found a video on youtube that buddhist people use while meditating. The tempo of the song is very slow. They use a slow tempo song that is good for quieting the mind and relaxing your muscles.
“Buddhism.” National Geographic Society, https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/buddhism.
“Buddhism and Music.” Obo, https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195393521/obo-9780195393521-0136.xml#:~:text=Most%20Buddhist%20practices%20involve%20chant,of%20personal%20cultivation%20or%20meditation.
My religion of choice is Buddhism. Buddhist music originated in India and gradually flourished around the 1st century AD. Buddhist chants are a kind of Buddhist music, which has been spread from ancient India till now. It is a kind of music with the nature of chanting, with both melody and singing.
The variety of Buddhist activities and rituals has given rise to different styles of music, which can be roughly divided into two categories: popular Buddhist music for folk purposes and Buddhist music for religious rites. Although popular Buddhist music has the musical theme of Buddhism, it is not limited to the chanting of believers in temples or Dharma meetings due to its good melody but is widely accepted by the public, such as Li Na’s Guanyin Bodhisattva and Huang Siting’s Love Affair. Buddhist music mainly refers to the Buddhist music of Buddhist chants, which is sung by the devotees in monasteries and some dharma meetings. In the temple, monks perform this music in the form of chanting during morning and evening classes. Buddhists sing or recite scriptures on a daily basis to remember the teachings of Guanyin to calm their hearts and sublimate their perverse desires.
When I was very young, I visited my great-grandmother with my family, before she passed away. She lay unconscious on the bed with a radio playing the Great Sorrow Mantra. I was too young to understand the meaning of the song. After that, for a long time, I associated the Great Mercy Mantra with death and I was afraid of the Great Mercy Mantra for a few years. As I grew older, I learned that the Great Mercy Mantra had the power to heal, purify and protect. The Great Mercy Mantra praises Avalokitesvara, respects the Bodhisattva’s compassion and compassionate qualities, and asks for protection from suffering.
The Great Mercy Mantra begins with a bell sound, then the sound of the flute enters, and the flute ends at 0:37 seconds, to be replaced by a human voice. Buddhist music does not have very distinct pitch fluctuations but instead centers around a major melody to sing Sanskrit. Use this way to remember the text and its teachings. After the chorus of male and female voices is over, the sound of the flute appears again, accompanied by the sound of the pipa, and the erhu is added at 2:50. 3.12 The second loop begins. The number of cycles of the Great Mercy Mantra varies from person to person. As far as I know, Buddhists usually chant the Great Mercy Mantra at least three times a day.
In Christianity music has always been very important. They use music to help show their faith, or help to declare their loyalty and worship to god. Similar to the calthoic church, a branch of Christianity, Christians also have a mass as well as a choir that would sing during the mass. They sing chorales and hold choirs for sacred music to help them express themselves during prayers and remembering scriptures. Similar to the caltholic churches again, they probably used music as a tool to help them with group prayers. By singing the scriptures of just singing during worship in general, would help keep everyone together.
One Christian/Catholic church hymn I found was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, The Hymn of Cherubim. This recording was performed by the USSR Ministry of Culture Chamber Choir in 1998. The piece itself has a very slow tempo. The vocals resemble the monophonic choir music from the mid-evil times. The music is also syllabic, meaning the words are very stretched out. There are multiple pitches for one word or phrase.
Although I can’t understand what they are saying, I assume it’s a recitation of their holy scriptures. The vocals combined with the slight echo of the church hall also gives the impression of angels speaking, it sounds to be what people describe as angelic. The music is also soft and slow, so many people can probably follow along, and it’ll be comfortable to their ears.
The link to the video:
Robert Green. October 11, 2022. Britanica.com. https://www.britannica.com/topic/mass-Christian-religious-service
Wesleyan university . Christianity in music. https://www.wesleyan.edu/christianitystudies/pathways/music.html
In a Catholic Church Gregorian chant is performed, it’s polyphonic but has elements of modern music. However, the range of music in Catholicism is extremely large. They believe that music and songs should encourage participation in the liturgical assembly. It’s also meant to cause feelings of “joy, rapture, loss, fear, longing, hope, humility, serenity, connection to God, connection to others, gravity, and solemnity”, as stated in https://www.catholicsandcultures.org/practices-values/music .
“Amazing Grace” is a song that both Christians and Catholics use. This piece expresses religious belief through its lyrics. For instance, “The Lord has promised good to me/ His word my hope secures/ He will my shield and portion be/ As long as life endures.” This song is meant to reiterate how Catholics believe that the Lord will protect them and they believe that there is hope and good because of him and his words. This song has moments of Melismatic and Syllabic singing. This song has no musical instruments. It’s acapella because there’s one main voice and then certain moments where there’s a group humming or singing along in the background.
Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest religions, up there with buddhism and judaism. This religion stems from the Indian subcontinent, spreading its tradition to other parts of the world, such as today in the United states which now recognizes diwali (a hindu holiday) as a nationwide holiday. The music that stems from hinduism has a lot to do with their beliefs and worship. This religion tends to have beliefs of blessing a new car, a new house, to having a “maticoor” in which families come together to celebrate the unification of two individuals.
Here is an example of a Maticoor night song at a Maticoor ceremony. These songs don’t usually stick to our music elements vocab, however, if you listen closely you can hear the melody of the harmonium. The woman vocalizing also plays a big factor into the music, in which she gives way for the tempo to get faster as she can sing faster with the melody. The harmonium is also pretty constant throughout the entire song. These songs can serve a religious purpose because they are mainly made for these religious or celebratory ceremonies (such as Maticoor). Another Hindu tradition is the mehndi night, which may also have its own set of musical genres for that specific tradition. The songs help them resonate with what tradition they are doing.
I will be discussing about Islam. islam is a religion that gives freedom to his/her believer, and yet it comes with little restriction. many people who aren’t familiar with the religion thinks that its a religion that restrict every aspect of life, many even thinks that music aren’t really legal in Islam, but that is a total false statement. muslims uses music in many different occasions. they use it to worship Allah, and use it to have fun in a ceremony. obviously, not every music used in ceremonies will be allowed in a worship place because people takes worshipping place serious more than ceremonies where they are to have fun.
the most popular musical part of Islam is the “Adhan” meaning call to prayer. this is really not a music but is is not recited in a regular speaking way either. the Adhan uses vocals to calls the attention of people to get the to have a sense of time, and when the next prayer is due. the Adhan is a type of memorizing musical form. people memorize the lyrics, and it has been passed down from generation to generation for over thousand year. one of the important part of the Adhan is that there is no musical instruments attached whatsoever. just the vocal and the changes in vocal pitches to convey feelings. in the modern days, people have started to use microphone, megaphone, and other voice increasing instruments to further cover lots of ground that people will hear from. this is simply because the society today is too big that people voice could bearly cover more than 2 houses. and it is noted in the Islamic history that the first man to call the Adhan was Bilal(a freed slave)
The Buddhist religion includes many ancient texts, similar to other religions in the world. However, these ancient texts are not traditionally sung, but rather chanted, by the Buddhist monks. The purpose of chanting the texts is to help with the memorization of the Buddha’s teachings and to be able to focus their minds. According to the textbook reading, the Buddhist musical practice remains fairly simple, and a vocal technique used by these monks is called harmonic singing, where multiple pitches are created within a single voice at the same time, thus creating harmony. The textbook also writes how the technique is “physically subtle,” as it requires “precise (and relaxed) positioning of jaw, tongue, and lips.”
Interestingly, as the Buddhist teachings are brought over from India to other countries in the east such as China, there has since been the incorporation of melodic features (where the ancient texts are sung), as well the use of Dharma instruments, including the hand bell, the wooden fish, the Dharma drum, and the singing bowl (Dharma). The incorporation of these instruments, especially the wooden fish, sets a beat for when Buddhist practitioners chant or sing Buddhist texts. The link attached below is a recording of the Buddhist text, “莲池赞 (Lianchi Zan)” in Chinese, showing a practice session for playing the Dharma instruments. The Dharma instruments form a homophonic texture, as they accompany the main melodic line being sung. Depending on if the text is sung or chanted, it can be either syllabic or melismatic, as some texts are chanted in a melodic way (syllabic) and others are sung with drawn-out pitches (melismatic). In this case, we hear a melismatic melody. The text in the video is usually sung at the beginning of a 1 or 2-hour session in temples and acts as an opening to the session, and it can be seen as a way for people to calm their minds for the rest of the session. This text is also usually sung by the practitioners all together, with the person playing the singing bowl leading.
(n.d.). Dharma Instruments Used in Meditation Retreats. Dharma Drum Mountain Global Website. Retrieved November 19, 2022, from https://www.dharmadrum.org/portal_d8_cnt_page.php?folder_id=30&cnt_id=80&up_page=1
The religion I chose to discuss is Islam. In Islam there is one sect of people called “Sufis”. The Sufis are famous for making “Islamic” influenced music called “Qawwalis” which are listened by people in all sects of Islam. “Qawwalis” are meant to increase one’s Islamic spirituality and get them closer to the religion and God through the Qawwali. The piece I chose to discuss today is a qawwali that my family and I grew up listening to which is “Tajdar-e-haram”. This qawwali is sung in Urdu. This qawwali expresses religious belief because its referring to the “king of our holy sanctuary” which would be God ultimately and saying to bless us and be merciful on us. The dynamics of this piece would be in between piano and mezzo piano, because the song was sung in a soft manner for the most part while it did get loud during some parts of the chorus. The tempo of this piece would be andante because it wasn’t too fast and too slow. The pace was like a steady beat and so I’d consider it andante.