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    The Differences between Buddhist Music in Japan Essay

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    As the music of a certain faith is influenced by the culture of a place, the music of certain peoples and places are influenced by the music of important religions that become deeply embedded in the culture. In this way, musical styles develop that are both religious and cultural, and are a reflection of both. This music is held in high regard by the people of these religions and cultures because it is the music that represents those aspects of life that are most precious. Culturally, music is a source of nationalist pride and unity for a group of people.

    Religiously, music reflects how followers worship their respective deities. In the Buddhist practice, music and chants are used for meditation across the global span of the religion. However, different forms of music and chants are used in a variety of ways throughout religious practices. The music and different forms of chants in the Buddhist religion affect Buddhist practices, and are also influenced by the religion and the different locations around the world in which Buddhism is practiced.

    Japan, China, and Tibet have the highest concentration of Buddhists and Buddhism is an integral part of the culture in these nations. In addition to Buddhism being reflected clearly in the cultures of Japan, China, and Tibet, each of these nations also has their own forms of prayer expressed through airing musical styles. In order to further investigate the styles and forms of Buddhist music, a short history of the religion will bring many of the elements of this cultural and religious music to light.

    Buddhism is based on a concurrent following of Four Noble Truths and an Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths are: 1) that life consists of suffering, 2) that the origin of suffering is attachment, 3) that suffering can only be ended through Miranda, and 4) that the path to the end of suffering is the Eightfold Path. This Development. The basis of the Buddhist faith is the belief in Karma (that the sections one makes in their current life will be returned to them in their future lives) and Rebirth (that one will be reincarnated in another life after death).

    There are a variety of different forms of prayer, worship, and meditation practices in the Buddhist religion, and each of these practices involve different forms of music and chanting. Every detail of faith, from the Four Noble Truths to the deep belief in Karma, is reflected in the sounds of Buddhism. These sounds have become a part of the Japanese, Chinese, and Tibetan cultures and are a constant reminder of the Buddhist tradition in these parts of the world.

    For example, “In a Zen temple, the hours of the day may be marked by the deep somber tones of the big o-gang bell in the bell tower, evoking the idea of impermanence” (Mall 1959). A bell tower can be heard for miles around and will create an environment of thoughtful contemplation for the surrounding area, further connecting the culture of a location with the precious music of a religion, and constantly reminding practicing Buddhists of their beliefs and dedication to follow the Eightfold Path.

    The effect of a Buddhist Temple bell tower may be felt in a number of religious raciest; the Muslim call to prayer is heard from a mosque across entire cities at midday, and the melodious clanging of Catholic and Christian cathedral bells may at times reach a volume that could only be described as a roar, but each of these sounds is a reflection of the religious practices these holy buildings house. Buddhism is set apart from other religions in the intricate and sacred ceremonies that revolve around the music of the religion.

    Wellness expresses his rapture at Buddhist music, “There is scarcely any religious denomination on the face of this earth in whose sacred ceremonies music holds a more prominent place than Buddhism” (Wellness 1957) In oral traditions of Buddhism, the words of a sacred text are learned and recited from memory. Chant is a ritual used as a musical representation of this oral tradition. Not only are sacred texts memorized, but when these texts are recited, they are said with rhythm and pitches, which create a more spiritual and reverent atmosphere during the ritual of chant.

    The Buddhist monks who perform these chants therefore memorize the sacred texts as well as the specific choral or pitched movements or intervals that are carefully placed throughout the chants to emphasize certain parts of the texts and evoke certain emotions tied to the sacred traditions reflected in the texts as well as in the act of chanting. This ritual of chanting is a religious experience for the monk who is performing the chants as well as for the viewers of the bring awareness to the mentality of truth and living deeply connected with the present moment, an important aspect of faith for followers of Buddhism.

    Again, Just as different countries have different styles of music that reflect their ultras and people, the three countries in which Buddhism is most prominent, Japan, China, and Tibet, have different cultural forms of Buddhist music that represent their strong Buddhist faith as well as integrate the musical instruments and aspects of their culture. The music of these countries is similar in many ways, laced together by the common thread of Buddhism to guide the development of music for worship, but each nation still reflects the unique culture of the place in the Buddhist music of the people.

    SOMY is an improvised chant that has two styles: rooky and rooky. SOMY uses the You scale, a pentatonic scale with ascending intervals of two, three, two, two and three semitones. SOMY is a form of esoteric ritual chant that is used worldwide in the Buddhist tradition, though the use of this chant is also relevant to the place in which people worship. SOMY is a type of music that possesses mystical syllables inhabiting the recitation of certain mantras. When this form of music is performed, the assembled congregation attain a blessing from hearing these chants.

    Since SOMY is a type of chant and meditation that is used in the Buddhist religion and cultures, it is influenced by the Buddhist faith, but t is also influenced by the cultures around it. While most forms of Japanese Buddhism use music quite prevalently, true SOMY is a rare find in Japan, present only in a select few temples on specific ceremonial occasions. In the scope of Buddhism in Japan, the influence of Buddhism of other cultures and the influence of other languages are accepted as a part of the music, and part of the ceremony.

    Japanese Buddhist liturgical chants are divided into three different categories: Bonsai, hymns in which Chinese characters stand for Sanskrit sounds, Was, hymns with texts written in Japanese, and Kansas, hymns with purely Chinese texts. In the way Chinese text substituting Sanskrit, and Chinese text standing alone are clear examples of the blending of languages and culture throughout Japanese Buddhism, and the truly worldwide breadth of the Buddhist religion.

    Surprisingly, hymnal texts written in Japanese only occupy one of the categories of Japanese Buddhist texts. The most melodious of these chants is the Was. Was tends to be heavily syllabic in style, poetic in text, and with a clear line, creating a musical chant that is most like the more Western understanding of religious hymns and worship music. Compared to Was chants, SOMY is much more complex musically, and the rarity of this type of worship music makes it that much more intriguing for anyone who is privileged to hear it performed.

    There are two levels of SOMY that are observed, the first style lies exclusively in the domain of priesthood, which passes from master to pupil continuously, as reflection of the that is observed is for the public to observe, but is still only performed by Buddhist priests and monks. Yet many of these mantras, or Hookup, are reserved only for those in priesthood. Hookup literally means a mystery piece or secret composition. The secrecy of these mantras is due to the belief that they are a psychic and cosmic force.

    There is power to this chant because of the presence of the mystic syllable “mm,” which is sacred in the Buddhist religion. In this way, the importance of music to Buddhism is further solidified by the private performances of SOMY, proving that the music and chants of the Buddhist tradition are not only for the benefit of the congregation or as a type of worship, but also as a sacred way of passing on priesthood between holy leaders.

    In another form of these Japanese chants, Kansas, four ritual sections comprise and aka sense of the chants, each a different “genre” of chants, used for different occasions and to evoke a variety of different emotional responses. The first, Bombay, is a hymn of praise, used during ecstatic times of worship. Second is the Gangs, an elaborate chant performed by priests while they deliberately and ceremoniously scatter lotus flowers, a Buddhist symbol of enlightenment. The don-on is an offering of pure chant or mantra to the Buddhist deity, Buddha himself.

    Lastly, the Shake-Joy is a chant that occurs toward the end of any service as a closing, a contemplative farewell. These chants explore Japanese Buddhism in greater depth and allow one to understand the different ways that music and chants are used in the ceremonies and services of the religion. The music of Buddhism is central to the faith because without music many Buddhist ceremonies could not take place, which is a crucial difference between Buddhism and other faiths, many of which employ music to aid worship, but the central aspect of the religion would not be lost if the music were missing.

    The important role that music plays to the Buddhist faith is clearly represented by the complexity of the music and chants. Each song and chant has a pacific meaning, a particular time and place, and even is performed by certain Buddhist leaders. After the Eddo period, Western music and influences enter Japan during a time known as the Meijer Period (1868-1911); however, the new western influence did not completely replace the traditional music styles that were established during the Eddo period.

    The Meijer period introduced western concepts such as harmonistic and fixed meter and tempo, which was not common in music from the Eddo period. These western influences were combined with the traditional Japanese scale and were implemented into the newly developed public school systems. Many of the songs that were used were traditional Japanese folk songs or western songs that had been translated into Japanese text. One of the primarily Japanese instruments with a religious affiliation is the Chihuahuas. Most of the recent pieces played on this instrument are derived from spiritual or meditative songs.

    During the Eddo period, a group of priests called the Sumo used the instrument as a spiritual tool to help focus breathing for meditation. These priests were from a sect of Buddhism that saw the instrument as a way to achieve enlightenment by playing songs that inspired Winnie is a term used by the Chinese that refers to music. Fabian is a term to denote Buddhist monastic chants. It has been used by the Chinese since Buddhism was introduced. Fabian in translation means scripture recitation; it is emphasized that the chants be tranquil.

    Chant is the only body of liturgical action and an expression of the liturgy itself. It is used to channel liturgical participation amongst the people. Gather is a sacred verse. Buddhist music has made an influence on world music Just as it has been influenced. Buddhist famine, which is characterized by a relaxed and say pace with solemn, soft tones. Chinese music has been influenced by Famine when it was developed to popularize a new style of giving sermons and publicizing the Dharma sung to famine melodies.

    According to the Vienna in Ten Recitations, regularly listening to Buddhist famine can give the following five benefits: a reduction in bodily fatigue, less confusion and forgetfulness, a reduction in mental weariness, a more elegant voice and greater ease in both personal expression and communication. The style of chanting in Tibet is called choral singing, it allows the monks to sing solo chords. The monks of Tibet are able to produce deep, guttural monotones that disperse into polyphony.

    As a Western listener it is likely to assume that the monks are singing in parts, however each monk is displaying a full set of sounds and pitches of firsts, thirds, fifths and additional overtones as well. The ability to produce these overtones and multi-phonics with one voice has been researched and there is no reason or explanation why these monks are able to sing this way. There has been studies that think it is because of the location of Tibet because it is located at the highest elevation in the world. The monks begin training at the age of twelve, before their voices will be classified as bass, baritone or tenor voice.

    The average monk is able to produce a D two octaves below middle C; which is beneath the range of most male singers. The ability to produce these sounds comes with great focus which allows the singer to achieve the awareness that is stated in the Eightfold Path. Meditation “Mindfulness is Buddha word for meditation. By mindfulness he means: you should always remain alert, watchful. You should always remain present. Not a single thing should be done in a sort of sleepy state of mind. You should not move like a somnambulist, you should move with a sharp consciousness. – SOHO There is a sense in which the monk, in deep meditation, is thought to hear within himself spiritual sounds of specific types that only he can hear. The frame drum, cymbals, conch horn, double-reed oboe, long trumpet and thigh-bone trumpet are though to evoke the thudding, crashing, ringing and tapping within his body; which mirrors the spiritual forces of the universe. (Mbabane: 21) Upon hearing these sounds, the person may naturally become mindful of the Buddha, mindful of the Dharma and tart, so music inspires or induce the spirit with sounds that they hear.

    Music plays an important role in religion, influencing the worship practices of each individual who follow these faiths. In the Buddhist practice, music and chants are used for meditation across the global span of the religion. However, different forms of music and chants are used in a variety of ways throughout religious practices. The music and different forms of chants in the Buddhist religion affect Buddhist practices, and are also influenced by the religion and the different locations around the world in which Buddhism is practiced.

    From SOMY chanting in Japan to choral, monophonic singing in Tibet, there are many differences and approaches in attaining mental wellness and achieving focal awareness in the Buddhist religion to spread the Dharma and become as Buddha-like in nature as the individual Buddhist follower can. “Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion. ” -Dalai Lama Bibliography Chem., A-yen. “Buddhist Chant, Devotional Song, and Commercial Popular Music: From Ritual to Rock Mantra”.

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