Asian Heritage Month: Tibetan Music

Asian Heritage Month: Tibetan Music

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Since the 12th century, Tibetans have practiced a tradition called the Lama Mani, which is the telling of Buddhist parables through song. They were performed by storytellers who travelled from village to village and Buddhist thangka paintings helped the audience in the teaching.

Street musicians in Ladakh.

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Chanting

Tibetan music often involves chanting in Tibetan, which is an integral part of its Buddhist religion. The chants are often recitations of sacred religious texts or in celebration of Tibetan festivals.

Tibetan monks playing the conch, 1938.

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World Music

One of my few hobbies includes listening to world music. And in doing so, I discovered the beautiful voice of Yunchen Lhamo, who had fled Tibet on foot in 1989; a voice gifted in devotional singing and has performed for the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, numerous times.

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

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Here is a video clip of Yunchen Lhamo singing at the American Music Festival in 2009. It is live and without any accompaniment:

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To read more posts for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

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Are you a practicing Buddhist? Have you ever chanted or meditated?

What do you think of Yunchen Lhamo’s voice?

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My name in Tibetan.
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