1st Edition

The Instrumental Music of Wutaishan's Buddhist Monasteries
Social and Ritual Contexts

ISBN 9781138261396
Published November 29, 2016 by Routledge
200 Pages

USD $62.95

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Book Description

Beth Szczepanski examines how traditional and modern elements interact in the current practice, reception and functions of wind music, or shengguan, at monasteries in Wutaishan, one of China's four holy mountains of Buddhism. The book provides an invaluable insight into the political and economic history of Wutaishan and its music, as well as the instrumentation, notation, repertoires, transmission and ritual function of monastic music at Wutaishan, and how that music has adapted to China's current economic, political and religious climate. The book is based on extensive field research at Wutaishan from 2005 to 2007, including interviews with monks, nuns, pilgrims and tourists. The author learned to play the sheng mouth organ and guanzi double-reed pipe, and recorded dozens of performances of monastic and lay music. The first extensive examination of Wutaishan's music by a Western scholar, the book brings a new perspective to a topic long favored by Chinese musicologists. At the same time, the book provides the non-musical scholar with an engaging exploration of the historical, political, economic and cultural forces that shape musical and religious practices in China.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part I The Music of Mañjusri's Mountain: A history of Wutaishan Buddhist music; Wutaishan and its Buddhist music today. Part II Music in Ritual at Wutaishan: Donor-sponsored ritual; Funeral observances; Calendrical observances. Part III Wutaishan's Shengguan Music: Shengguan instrumentation; Notation; Transmission of Shengguan practice; Shengguan repertoires. Part IV Buddhist Music in a Material World: Buddhist Shengguan in concerts, festivals and recordings; The politics of Buddhist music; The business of Buddhist music; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

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Dr Beth Szczepanski, Lecturer, Ohio State University, USA


'Though primarily an ethnography of contemporary shengguan practice, the book traces this music back to its legendary origins in the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) and follows it through more recent travails in the last two centuries.' Journal of Folklore Research