Tuesday, December 9, 2008

CD Review: Music From Myanmar

Various Artists
Music of Myanmar: Buddhist Chant in the Pali Tradition [2 CD]
Celestial Harmonies

The two-CD boxed set of Buddhist religious chant includes a detailed 90-page booklet of colored photos, chant translations from Burmese to English, and other information in an attractive collection from Celestial Harmonies. Most Burmese Buddhists are Theravada Buddhists, which follow the Pali tradition originating from the Pali canon of ancient Indian Buddhism from the Sthaviras who followed in the tradition of the first Buddhist sangha (assembly). The first CD includes a short musical introduction of conch trumpet, percussion plaque, and gong. The second track features Buddhist chant without instrument accompaniment. Track three is a long 63-minute chant proclaiming protection from evil and danger. The entire CD runs around 73 minutes in length. The second CD contains a track signifying universal causation and calls for protection. It is a chant entirely devoid of instrumentation. Track two, "Te Bhumma", is a song about Buddhist doctrines (Dhamma Gita) and is sung by a female. She is accompanied by harp and assorted percussion instruments. The song was written by the incomparable U Pyone Cho (1878-1927), a Burmese polyhistorian, artist, and avid naturalist. The final track, "Wizaya Hawsa", is a religious story sung in verse with varied vocal changes and dramatic story-telling gestures. The single, male vocalist is accompanied by the Hsaing Waing Ensemble. Overall, this set is ideal for fans looking for Buddhist chant and music. That being said, it's an amazing collection running well over two hours in length. ~ Matthew Forss

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