Tibetan [Ritual] Music

Tibetan music, like other aspects of Tibetan culture, ranks among the most delightful, strange, and pleasing in the world. Field recordings of ritual chants are fascinating, and there are applications of the otherworldly instrumentation and voice. (Chants often resemble throat singing.) Two albums of Tibetan bells particularly head the "strange music" category. The music from these purely non-electronic instruments nevertheless sounds ethereal and electronic/spacey, thus comparable to other albums of wind harp, temple gongs, Harry Partch instruments, etc. Religious Tibetan music is beyond comparison.

Many Tibetan LPs fall into the "field recording" class, but even these have magical moments. The work songs (for lugging stone, building, cutting grass, herding, etc.) of Tibet have isolated, pastoral, mountain-echo qualities unlike any other. Most Tibetan folk music is traditional, having none of the encumbrances of formality, written notation, concert halls, conservatories, and so on that bind Western music. The one exception is travelling bands who perform at village festivals.

Buying: LPs of Tibetan music are rare but generally have not been discovered as great things. The unique ones are fantastic, and even the standard ones on Lyrichord and Nonesuch are very worthwhile.

Tibetan LPs on Lyrichord

7Tibetan Ritual Music--Chanted & Played by Lamas & Monks of the Four Great Orders; Lyrichord LLST-7181; 1961
8Tibetan Folk & Minstrel Music; Lyrichord LLST-7196 (LL-196 may be stereo too)
7Tibetan Buddhist Rites from the Monasteries of Bhutan, Vol. 1--Rituals of the Drukpa Order from Thimphu & Punakha; Lyrichord LLST-7255
7Tibetan Buddhist Rites from the Monasteries of Bhutan, Vol. 2--Sacred Dances & Rituals of the Nyingmapa & Drukpa Orders; Lyrichord LLST-7256
7Tibetan Buddhist Rites from the Monasteries of Bhutan, Vol. 3--Temple Rituals & Public Ceremonies; Lyrichord LLST-7257
7Tibetan & Bhutanese Instrumental & Folk Music, Vol. 4-- Tibetan & Bhutanese Instrumental & Folk Music; Lyrichord LLST-7258; 1974
8A Tibetan Buddhist Rite from Nepal--Padmasambava Chopa [with the Mahakala Offering]; Lyrichord LLST-7270
The Songs & Music of Tibet; Lyrichord LLST-7284
The Songs of Milarepa; Lyrichord LLST-7285
7Tibetan Folk Songs from Lhasa & Amdo; Lyrichord LLST-7286
5Tibetan Mystic Song; Lyrichord LLST-7290
7Songs of Gods & Demons--Ritual & Theatrical Music of Tibet; Lyrichord LLST-7291

Other Tibetan & Himalayan LPs

9Cho-Ga--Tantric & Ritual Music of Tibet; Dorje Ling; 1971/1969-70 (compilation; in Germany as The Religious Sound of Tibet; Teldec TST-76965)
6Festivals of the Himalayas; Nonesuch Explorer H-72065; 1975 (David Lewiston)
8The Gyuto Monks: Tibetan Tantric Choir; Windham Hill 1934-12001-1; 1987 (prod. Mickey Hart)
Heart Dance, River Flow--Folk Music of Tibet; Dorje Ling
6Ole Jensen & his Music; Chappell LPC-1040; 1970 (production/bongo bop/beatnik/spy/mod/flute/Tibetan "PAgan Rites")
5Music of a Sherpa Village; Folkways FE-4320; 1973/1972 (rec. by John Melville Bishop in Melemchigaon, Helambu, Nepal)
9Alain Presencer: The Singing Bowls of Tibet; SayDisc SDL-326; 1981 (very space/electronic sounding; in US as MHS 7284H; 1985)
Ritual Tibetan Music; Ocora OCR-49 (France)
6Songs & Dances of Nepal; Folkways/Ethnic Folkways Library FE-4101; 1964 (rec. Caspar Cronk)
6The Songs & Music of Tibet; Folkways FE-4486; 1962
7Tibet--Musique Sacree; Ocora OCR-71; 1986/1971 (France; Georges Luneau, Pierre Toureille; earlier issues 1983, 1984)
7Tibetan Buddhism--Tantras of Gyütö: Mahakala; Nonesuch Explorer H-72055; 1973 (David Lewiston)
7Tibetan Buddhism--Tantras of Gyütö: Sangwa Düpa; Nonesuch Explorer H-72064; 1975 (David Lewiston)
8Tibetan Buddhism--The Ritual Orchestra & Chants: Recorded at Pal Phuntsok Chokorlin, Tashi Jong, Himachal Pradesh, India; Nonesuch Explorer H-72071; 1976 (David Lewiston)
7Tibetan Buddhism--Shedur: A Ghost Exorcism Ritual--The Venerable Yeshe Dorje Rinpoche, Master of the Rite; Nonesuch Explorer H-72081; 1978 (David Lewiston rec. in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh)
8Henry Wolff/Nancy Hennings: Tibetan Bells; Island SMAS-9319; 1972/1971 (w/Drew Gladstone; gatefold; non-gatefold reissue: Antilles AN-7006; 1973)
7Henry Wolff/Nancy Hennings: Tibetan Bells 2; Pacific Arts PACR7-110; 1979/1978
7Henry Wolff/Nancy Hennings: Tibetan Bells 3--The Empty Mirror; Celestial Harmonies CEL-027; 1988
7Various: An Anthology of Oriental Music: Tibet--Music of the Tantric Rituals; Anthology AST-4005l; 1970/1968
8Various: A Musical Anthology of the Orient: Tibet 1; UNESCO Collection Musical Sources; Baren Reiter BM-30-L-2009
Various: A Musical Anthology of the Orient: Tibet 2; UNESCO Collection Musical Sources; Baren Reiter BM-30-L-2010
Various: A Musical Anthology of the Orient: Tibet 3; UNESCO Collection Musical Sources; Baren Reiter BM-30-L-2011

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