virus: Re: belief and knowledge

Ken Pantheists (
Tue, 08 Jul 1997 15:13:09 +0000

Wade Wrote:

I have achieved this state.

>From Mahler, among others.

At this point I am assuming you have now attended or heard a
reproduction of th Gyoto monks and made the comparison to Mahler.

You have asked me to avoid apologia and to define my terms.

The Gyoto Monks do not produce vocal sounds in the same way that you or
I do. Through years of discipline the monks train themselves to use the
cavities, sinuses, bones and fissures in their bodies to resonate sound.
The result is a vocal harmonic. Vocal harmonics, if you've never heard
of them, occur when two or more sounds are created from the same
laryngial vibration. There are other forms of singing that use vocal
harmonics, the Bulgarian woman's chior is one, Mongolian folk singing
uses it as well as Inuit throat singing. However, the latter uses the
mouth chamber of another singer to produce the harmonic frequency.

Of the many forms almost all use the cavities of the nasopharynx,
oropharynx and laryngopharynx to conduct sounds into the paranasal
passages, hard palate and the orbital bones. Sounds are also channeled
through the various sutures and fissures between the bones of the skull.
The result is an unbelievably high pitched "Whale song" kind of sound
that literally circles around the room as it is isolated and directed
through the front sides and back of the skull. Under this sound are two
sometimes three more notes produced by chest and mouth resonators. So
you have four sounds coming from one mouth. I know this because I,
myself practice Mongolian Vocal Harmonics. In my four years of fiddling
with it, I can only produce the sounds in random combinations. I can't
do an actual "song".

What makes the Tibetan chants so incredible is that, because of their
belief in the Shokras, (areas in your body that are part of your
"spectrum of power") they send harmonic frequencies into the lower body,
to the heart, stomach, pelvic bones and down the spine. The result is a
vast scale of sound that goes from being so high you can only "feel" the
sound in the top of your head to so low that your lower spine vibrates.

Yet this technique is an expression of the non-physical, because it was
developed as part of a spiritual teaching. The technique would not have
been developed as a more efficient way of talking, for example.

But to get back to your observation of Mahler. You actually didn't get
the same experience from Mahler. Mahler's music was written to be played
on instruments. And instruments are made of wood, string, metal and reed
and the sounding chambers of most musical instruments are not the same
size or shape as a human body. When the Monks chant, they are actually
setting up sympathetic vibrations inside your own body. The sound of a
violin, although beautiful will, by its nature vibrate a violin more
effectively than your ear.

Why do you think this is a marvel only to be
evoked from a small genre of music? And in what unique way?

And- so what?

I will ignore the "so what?" part of your question because it's just too
brilliant for me to refute.

My understanding of this conversation is that it is a discussion of
Technique, not Genre. That's what you asked for isn't it? I mean
Technique is quantifiable and can be described outside the cultural
context whereas Genre is relative to context. Technique in music can be
notated, Genre can only be constructed and commented on, no? Am I
missing something here?

I don't think anyone has said that other genres of music are not
evocative (if anyone has, well, they are a twit). I think people are
saying that the chanting is the impressive result of a discipline
designed to map a metaphysical world (a world of spiritual/physical
sensation). This Technique would not have been developed under other

This quality of music to enrapture is not in any way what we are
discussing, and if you think it is, then where do you come off saying
this is 'non-physical'?

Well, THAT was a big step backward. No the ability of music to enrapture
has NEVER been the issue here. What is at issue is your reaction to the
word "non-physical" in the description of a religious art form. Come on
Wade-- it's just an adjective it's not the atomic weight of gold.

You know Wade, your love of Aristotle (as shown in the DoT thread)
illustrates why you refuse to map Tibetan Religious Art.

You: His Poetics is still the seminal, and the most relevant
aesthetic blueprint ever written.... IMHO.

Me: His Poetics is still seminal, and *A* relevant
aesthetic blueprint.... IMHO.


Don't get lost in apologia- define your terms....

Don't mix Discourse with Narrative.

  Ken Pantheists        
  Lurch In Vault Web Services