The Sacred Music Of Tibet

According to the old scriptures ,the rendition of the Tibetain Lithurgia
follows the structure below

1      The Offerings for General Protectors (Sarkam)
2     A Prayer of Kala Rupa
3     The Praises for Guyashamaya (Sangva Duva)
4     The Prayers of Forgiveness (Sosol)
5     A Traditional Composition for Gya Ling and Dung Chen
6     Dedications in Verses (Monlam) / Guru Puja (Lama Chophey Tsok)

The Monks of the

Dip Tse Chok Ling Monastery

It was originally situated in Tibet, a few kilometers south of Lhasa and the Potala Palace, the residence of H.H. the Dalai Lama. It was built in the 18th century by the Most Venerable Yongzin Yeshi Gyaltsen, tutor of His Holiness the 8th Dalai Lama. Yongzin Yeshi Gyaltsen, previously founded another monastery in Kyidong, west Tibet, called Samten Ling. The monastery had a very close relationship with a common lineage, that continued until 1959, when Tibet was “Liberated” by the Chinese Red Army. Along with over 6000 other monasteries and temples, Dip-Tse-Chok-Ling was ravaged and demolished to near ruins.

In 1992 the people of Dip began work on the reconstruction of Dip-Tse-Chok-Ling Monastery. Local volunteers, including the remaining monks, under the direction of Ven Tenzin Gelek Rinpoche, the 6th reincarnation of YYG and the late Lama Tashi Gyaltsen, made a request for assistance from Dip-Tse-Chok-Ling Monastery-in-exile, in Dharamsala. The present director of the monastery-in-exile, Thupten Nyendak (Pema Lama) went to Tibet bringing with him five life-size statues from India, as well as donations for the reconstruction of the original monastery. In September of 1992 the monstery was twenty-five percent complete and was reopened. Funds are being raised for the completion of the monastery. There was no assistance from the local Chinese government in these efforts.

Presently the monastery has twenty five monks, including five monks from the original Dip-Tse-Chok-Ling Monastery who serve as teachers to the other young monks.

The founder of the present monastery, Late Lama Tashi Gyaltsen, was ordained and educated at Samten Ling and later became an active member there. He also spent several years at Dip-Tse-Chok-Ling and became very dedicated to both monasteries. Having narrowly escaped the Chinese Invasion, Late Lama Tashi Gyaltsen settled in Boudhnath (Nepal) from 1959 to 1975 with Samten Ling monks who were taking care of the Managing Director of their new monastery.

In 1976 he came, along with his first student-in-exile, Thupten Nyandak (Pema Lama) to Mcloed Ganj, Dharamsala, with the wish to refound Dip-Tse-Chok-Ling Monastery. This little town in Northern India is the sear of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and of the Tibetan Government-in-exile.

The project started with a nucleus of three novice monks, later joined by a few more, in a rented ramshackle wooden hut. However, due to frequent rental problems and complications with the landowner, Late Tashi Gyaltsen cherished the idea of buying a piece of land and establishing an independent monastery.

A very beautiful and quiet site among the trees, 300 metres below Mcloed Ganj, was bought in 1984 and hence the present monastery was born. Construction was started in 1984 and it was completed in 1986, thanks to the generous assistance of the Association of Dip-Tse-Chok-Ling, Switzerland and the Association of Freiburg, Germany, along with many other individual donors from Europe and the West. We built a two storey temple. On the ground floor is the main temple. On the second floor is the Arya Tara Temple, the procector temple room and a private room for His Holiness. Late Lama Tashi Gyaltsen requested H.H. the Dalai Lama to inaugurate the temple. On 7th March 1987 the ceremony took place.

Daily Timetable of the Class

The monks begin their day at 6.00 a.m. with chanting prayers and Puja. Tibetan language, Buddhist Philosophy, debate and English Language School hours are from 6.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Prayers, recitation of religious texts, and debate sessions continue until evening 10.00 p.m. The monks also receive annual teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and occasional teachings from other eminent Lamas.









Introduction to Arabic Music

Ancient evidence

In ancient Arabic times, the art of song came about before instrumental music. Huda (The Caravan of camels’ Song) has been long regarded by Arab historians as the first song to originate; its source traced back to Mudar Ibin Nizar Ibn Ma’add. The song occurs in the Rajaz (a poetic meter), corresponding to the sound of camels’ footsteps. According to Al Masudi and Ibn khaldun, Mudar fell from his camel and broke his hand, and in his pain he cried out ‘Ya yadah, Ya yadah’.

After Huda, the Nasb song came about which was not much of an improvisation of Huda. The Nasb and Nuah were the only type of songs practiced until the end of the sixth century. More advanced songs have been come from Al-Hira (Iraq now), when the poet and musician Al- Nader Ibn Al- Harith (624) introduced several creative musical ideas. In his work,Al Farabi(d.950), describes instruments of his period that are different compared to those in the pre- Islamic time, with the Oud known as various names and shapes as Muwatter and Mizhar. Perron in his book, Femmes Arabs pre-Islam, says ‘Before Islam, music was little ales than unpretentious varied and declaimed, by the singer, male or female or rather caprices’.

The Golden Age

‘The arts of music continued to make progress with the Arabs, and under the Abbasids it was carried to perfection’ Ibn Khaldun, Al Muqaddima. Translated by H.G. Farmer.

During the period of the Islamic Golden Age (800-1200 AD), Arabian music made greater progress than during any other period. The main two causes are considered to be the economic and political progress of the time. Side by side with stability, a society can find intellectual prosperity and artistic magnificence, including music brilliance.

Famous singers (girls and professional musicians were treated very well and with generosity) and even ordinary professional musicians made a small fortune by his art in those days. Theoretical and practical progress was original and in this period genres and melodic modes were first methodically established.From the works (books, manuscripts and letters) we get a close insight into the theatrical and practice works, so we can see the progress of rhythms, music terminology, music instruments, teaching methods and lyric and poetry.

Musicians and Singers

Many great singers and musicians have been contributed to Arabic music, past and present. Most of them had and still have creative live innovations and inventionssuch as: Nashit per-Islam, Isaac Musally and Zriab during 8th century, Alarmaoy 14th century, Abdo Al Hamoly, Abu khalilal Qabani and Mula Otman Mossali in the late 19th century and Um Kalthom Farid Al Atrash, Firuz and Abdul wahab in themid-20th century.

Musical instruments

As early as the 10th century A.D., Arabian scholars such as Al- Kindi, Al farabi, Ibn Zaylah, the Ikhwan as-Safa (Brothers of Serenity), and Ibn Sina, devised a special classification system for musical instruments that led to their subdivision into percussion, plucked, bowed, and wind instruments. In addition to these classifications, it was important for the systemisation whether the duration of the tone produced by the instrument was short, long or sounded continuously, and whether the neck of a stringed instrument was with equipped with frets.

From time immemorial, the Arabs have preferred to make music in small ensembles. The only exception to this was presented by the splendid court orchestras in Iraq, Morocco, and Egypt, as reported to us by historians. Up to one hundred musicians were said to have performed in these orchestras on drums, timpani, horns, and oboes.


The Oud is a fretless, plucked short-necked lute with a body shaped like half a pear. The Oud can indeed be considered the very embodiment of Arabian musical culture. Music theory, in particular the Arabian tones system, was and is still illustrated with it. It is regarded as the cornerstone of Arabian art music in concerts, on the radio, and in the domestic sphere. It is not without reason that the Arabs call the Oud the ‘Sultan of the Musical Instrument’. Since the beginning of Arabian musical history, both men and women have performed on this instrument.

Qanon (Ka-noon)

The Qanon is a plucked box zither used in Arabic and other Oriental music and is a classical instrument of the Arab world. The Qanon was invented in the Abbasid period (750-1258 AD), by legendary musician and instrument maker Al Faraby (950 AD). The Qanon has a trapezoid body with one rectangular side. The longer side varies in length between 75 and 100 cm (29-39 in) and the box, between 32 and 44 cm wide, runs across a bridge resting on five patching of fish skin. The instrument has range of about four octaves.  The player rests the Qanon on his knees or on a table with the longest side facing him and the perpendicular side to his right. Ring-shaped plectra made from buffalo horns are placed on both index fingers pluck the strings.


In spite of the many wind instruments extant, the Nay is still the most popular and common used instrument in Arabic music. The Nay is an oblique rim-blown flute of Arab world. The classical Nay consists of an open-ended segment with six finger holes in the front and one in the back. The Nay is the only wind instrument played in Arab music art.

Percussion instruments

Percussions instruments in Arab art music play a very important role, as it helps keep the rhythm and timing in all musical genres, especially in vocal music, which makes up more than 85% of traditional Arab music art. For this reason, many kinds of percussion instruments can be found that have different sounds and colours and play circular rhythms with the same key signature.

For instance:

Dombak: single-headed goblet-shaped drums

Riqq:  a small, circular frame drum with jingles

Tar: a circular frame drum found throughout Arab world. Diameter from 12 to 70 cm. Mizhar: frame drum

Khishba: a single-headed, narrow hourglass drum, made from wood original used by gypsies.

Bowed Instruments

There are many names for the bowed spike fiddle instrument typically found in the area, such as Joza in Iraq, Kamanja in Egypt, and other names, depending on the length and number of the strings. It ranges between 60-100 cm long with a resonator made from a hollowed-oud coconut. It is cut off at both ends, with one opening covered by lamb or fish skin.


The Rababah is a spike fiddle, traditionally used to accompany Bedouins poetry. The Bedouin version has a quadrilateral sound box covered with skin and a single horsehair string. It is played with a horsehair bow. The Moroccan variant has a boat-shaped sound box and the string may be positioned to the side of the neck. In Egypt, the sound box is made from a coconut shell. Some versions have two strings.

Music Theory (Scales and Rhythms) Today

Every Maqam consists of seven notes in each octave with the first note added to form the next octave up, which brings the total number of notes up to eight. Each Maqam is divided into two main ‘Jins‘ or genders consisting of four notes each, barring certain rare exceptions. Each gender consists of a scale that is independent of the genders that follow or precedes it. This is what is referred to as tetrachord. For example, in Maqam, Rast C (C – D – E half flat – F) is the first gender and (G – A – B half flat or flat depending whether one is ascending or descending the scale – C) is the second gender, we notice that the notes of each gender are independent of each other and are not shared. The first gender is usually derived from one Maqam and the second gender is derived from another Maqam.

Rhythms (iqa’at) can be highly complex, with patterns sometimes consisting of as many as 48 beats. The basic components of a rhythm are two kinds of beat and silences (rests). The downbeat (dumm) is a deep sound made by hitting the drum or tambourine near the centre. The upbeat (takk) is a crisper, high-pitched sound made by tapping the rim of the instrument. Players usually ornament the basic pattern with improvisations.

Present Genders

There are many genders and musical forms in Arab music arts heritage. The first are vocal music genders, such as Dawr, short and long song and Qasidah. The second type is the musical treatment genders, such as Sama’ai, Longa, Peshrav and Dowlab. Vocals in local Arab music include Nuba, Malof and Malhon in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, and Maqamt in Iraq, Qiddod in Syria, Taqtoqa, in Egypt and Sout in Arabian Peninsula. But today all of these styles and genders are exercised within the heritage and traditional music, and most of the music used today is called modern, youth or electronic music, and is played at a variety of places for entertainment and enjoyment.


In Arabic music, the basics of a piece are notated, while ornamentation and embellishments are left to the performer. This is where we find a greater freedom of expression being afforded to the musician and we see him/her adding their own touches and interpretation to the composer’s ideas. Therefore, the piece is a sort of tandem work between the composer and whatever musician happens to be playing the piece at the time. These embellishments and additions are either improvised by the instrumentalist during the performance or are prepared prior to it. However these embellishments are not fixed and change according to the mood of the performer. We can therefore say that Taqasim and improvisation enters all forms of Arabic music in varying degrees. Improvisation does not feature the prepared musical themes and depends on the creation in the course of playing, but the Taqasim features the prepared musical themes mostly plus a few simple additional improvisations by the player in the course of the performance.

The word Taqasim remains the most accurate way to describe this distinct form in Arab music art and so. However, Taqasim was translated into ‘improvisation’ in other languages, which does not describe the form, as accurately, even though the two words have rather similar meanings. Upon closer inspection, we find that the difference between them is that improvisation is prepared or created during the performance and relies entirely on the musician’s ability, technique and knowledge of the various Maqams. Taqasim, however, consists in part of phrases and ideas that were prepared before the performance in the form of composition, or modifying other musicians’ phrases or Taqasim (from folklore or otherwise) to be performed in a way that suits the performer (i.e., not necessarily performed exactly as it was notated).

Concept of Tarab

Tarab is “the ecstasy, elation, pleasure of delight spiritual of listening to excellent singer, the excellence of the singer who could fascinate her/his audience’. The marvellous voice that could sing with harmonic modulations of Maqams also had a unique quality of voice.  All those descriptions could be suitable to define and identify Tarab. Without understanding and feeling the meaning of the words (lyrics) of Tarab, it is hard to influence audiences. The concept of Tarab could include other forms of arts, such as dance. In general, certain distinctiveness connected to the appreciation of art in Arab music.

Between prohibition and legality

The legality of music and singing in Islamic law is an issue hotly debated among individuals and scholars in Islamic societies of our present day. Arriving at the correct view requires an unbiased, scholarly research of the available literature, which must be supported by authentic, decisive proof.

A considerable amount has been said and written both for and against this subject, and the proliferation of doubt and confusion necessitates another critical, meticulous analysis and assessment of this whole matter, in order for one to come to a clear, decisive conclusion which leaves not the least bit of doubt in the mind of the reader.

Ahmed Mukhtar

Welcome to The World of KHAEN.
On this page you will find a some  Information
about this wonderful instrument. R51


The Laotian Free-Reed Mouth Organ – The khaen is constructed with free reeds mounted in bamboo pipe walls inside a carved wooden windchest. Each reed of the khaen sounds for both directions of air flow (inhaling and exhaling). The reed vibration is strongly coupled to the pipe resonance, and the reed will sound only if a small hole near the reed is closed, causing the resonant frequency of the pipe to be near that of the reed. For some examples of khaen made in northeastern Thailand, variations in frequency and sound spectrum with blowing pressure have been studied, with both positive and negative blowing pressures considered. The relationship between frequency of reed vibration and pipe length has been studied to determine the range of pipe length over which the reed can be made to sound, as well as the amount of frequency shift associated with changes in resonance frequency of the pipe. A comparison is made with a previously reported result that the sounding frequency of the reed-pipe combination is higher than the natural resonance frequencies of either the reed or the pipe taken alone. [L. E. R. Picken, C. J. Adkins, and T. F. Page, Musica Asiatica 4, 117–154 (1984).]——References 1. L.E.R. Picken, C.J. Adkins, and T.F. Page, “The making of a khaen: the free-reed mouth organ of North-East Thailand,” Musica Asiatica, 4, 117-154, Cambridge University Press, 1984. 2. Terry E. Miller, Traditional music of the Lao: Kaen Playing and Mawlum Singing in Northeast Thailand, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 1985. 3. Terry E. Miller, “Free-Reed Instruments in Asia: A Preliminary Classification,” in Music East and West: Essays in Honor of Walter Kaufmann, Pendragon, New York, 1981. 4. Terry E. Miller, An Introduction to Playing the Kaen, World Music Enterprises, Kent, Ohio, 1991. 5. Robert W. Garfias, “The Asian Free Reed”.

Phanon Laos


About RAM Chandrakausika राम च 51

Ram51 is a researcher in the various fields of Musicology, Philosophy and History as well as old languages. One of his first topics is the wide scope of Indo-arabic cultures as represented in various art-forms religion and history. Below a list of selected Research topics which sum up partitionally the task of anthropological Frameworks in totaliter : Sanskrit Hinduism and Mythology Hindustani Music, The Muqhal Empire Gharanas from North India Kashmir Sufiyana The Kashmir Santoor Traditional Folk Music from USA Philosophy in Orient and Okzident Genealogy of musical instruments Ethnomusicology, Arabic Maqams, No Theatre fromJapan, North american poetry, Cultural heritage of mankind and Islamic architecture... View all posts by RAM Chandrakausika राम च 51

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