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date: 15 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Music and patterned expressions of sound (whether classified as music or not) serve Buddhist cultures and practices in many important ways. This chapter takes stock of the many diverse practices of the world’s Buddhist cultures, in the vehicles of Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana, and Zen. Functions of music, sound, and chanting include proclaiming, memorizing, and contemplating the Dhamma; signaling transitions in rituals; repeating mantras; narrating Jataka stories; cultivating a sense of community within Buddhist lay groups; and performing a rich pageantry of processual music to glorify shrines. Scholarship on Buddhist chanting and music is rapidly growing, though it is divided by language and dispersed among many fields of study. The emerging Buddhist musicology holds great promise, if lingering obstacles between fields of study and languages of scholarship can be overcome.

Keywords: Buddhism, chant, music, musicology, mantra

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