Monday, April 7, 2008
Lying in the shadows of the magnificent Himalayas, the village of Dharamsala is at the heart of Tibetan Buddhism. In this modest village where the first great rock wall of the Himalayas rises up from the plains of India, the Dalai Lama lives in exile among numerous followers. From the center of town, a rugged pathway leads to the Dip Tse Chok Ling Monastery School, home to over forty monks and students who have dedicated their lives to spiritual growth and contemplation. Sacred Ceremonies: Ritual Music of Tibetan Buddhism crosses the threshold of this sanctuary to explore the vibrant sounds of the monks' ancient musical meditations with clarity and sensitivity. Digitally recorded on location by David Parsons, these performances of six traditional rituals resonate with a wide variety of tone colors and techniques mastered through the ancient art of multiphonic chanting. This powerful sound is believed to emanate only from those who have attained a wisdom that transcends the self. Each vocalist produces a chord encompassing two or three tones through the intricate manipulation of overtones. Breathing plays an integral part in the creation of this remarkable sound; even the gya ling (Tibetan oboe) players use circular breathing to produce continuous tones from their instruments. The musical meditations are enhanced by rousing blasts of the dung chen, a pair of twelve foot long metal trumpets. Dramatic beats from bass drums and stirring splashes from large cymbals add to the sonic intensity of these exhilarating rituals.