Monks with guitars

I’m still working on a follow-up to the previous post on religious music, and in that vein thought I’d offer a comparison point from Chinese Buddhism.

As far as I can ascertain, this is what traditional Chinese Buddhist chant sounds like:


But in searching for Chinese Buddhist chant, the majority of videos are this kind of thing:


The modern musical influences are pretty clear. It’s basically Chinese ballad-pop with a Buddhist twist. They even have a video of Faye Wong singing the Heart Sutra at a concert held in a temple. That’s a bit like a non-skanky version of Madonna singing the Gospel of Mark in a cathedral:


But as promised, here’s a video of monks with a guitar. To their credit they look quite uncomfortable, and I’m fairly sure the whole thing is viewed as an anomaly, kinda like “OMG! Real monks with a guitar!”


My all-time favourite remains this collaboration between Japanese Buddhist monks and a Czech Gregorian Schola:


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