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Thread: Instruments on Zen

  1. #1

    Instruments on Zen

    Hi friends...

    What are the "musical" percussion instruments used ritualistically in Zen practice (mainly in temples, etc..)

    For example, I have sympathy for that block of wood "clappers", "mokugyo" "mokugyo" (I do my recitation of the Heart Sutra in japanese striking my bell stick on the ground) and the bells... I buyed me bells (a little one like a "bowl" and a smaller one)...

    Can aynone tell me briefly how each of them are used on temple cerimonies (the function of each one as the japanese name if one can... ) and what instruments an almost "layman", a practicing guy can use to embellish the ritual?

    Why, for example, one goes striking, then striking more and more rapidly the clappers, or the drums... or the bells... is there a ritual significance?

    I´m a musician too... then there´s why I´m interested...

    For those interested in hear me (poorly playing and trying to sing) click here

    Shakuhachi music interests me too... is there zen music... or zen "inspired" traditional japanese music... or any reccomendations?

    Gassho,

    Marcos
    _/|\_

    Kyōsei

    強 Kyō
    声 Sei

    Namu kie Butsu, Namu kie Ho, Namu kie So.

  2. #2
    A quick go at answering your question:

    The mokugyo has the shape of a fish because a fish even when dead has open eyes, and thereore it symbolises awakening. It is uses solely to give the rhythm of sutra when we chant.
    The wood has also often the shape of a fish but this time the fish has a pearl in his mouth, practice ( zazen) and the treasure of awakening ( the pearl) are one, it is used to call people to the Zendo to sit. Striking more rapidly is also a way to convey that time passes quickly and one has to not procrastinate.
    The drum gives the time when priests are sitting.
    The big bell outside gives the community clues about things happening, call priests for activities or when sitting, it is hit regularly to help people to come back to zazen when they drift away.
    The Bell used coupled with Mokugyo symbolises wisdom .
    The metal is used to call people for the meal.
    The clappers are used as mokugyo, or to let people know that it is time to go to bed.

    But I am sure Jundo will have many more things to share with us.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Last edited by Taigu; 07-20-2013 at 01:25 AM.

  3. #3
    Member Geika's Avatar
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    Thanks, Taigu. I didn't know the meaning of the mokugyo's fish shape. Poignant image of presence.
    迎 Geika

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    A quick go at answering your question:

    The mokugyo has the shape of a fish because a fish even when dead has open eyes, and thereore it symbolises awakening. It is uses solely to give the rhythm of sutra when we chant.
    The wood has also often the shape of a fish but this time the fish has a pearl in his mouth, practice ( zazen) and the treasure of awakening ( the pearl) are one, it is used to call people to the Zendo to sit. Striking more rapidly is also a way to convey that time passes quickly and one has to not procrastinate.
    The drum gives the time when priests are sitting.

    (...)

    But I am sure Jundo will have many more things to share with us.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, I´ve heard some of these instruments at Busshinji Temple (a Soto Zen Temple, lead by Sokan Dosho Saikawa Roshi), in the city of São Paulo here in Brazil; I´ve heard that drum (think they call it "Taiko" if I´m remembering well), and it was used along with a Bell, yes... to "mark" time... but I didn´t understand how exactly... Thought there was *number of beats on Taiko* = hours... *number of beats on suspended bell* = minutes... I do remember, as well, that the large drum ressonates in all parts of the Temple... at least I though so! A very penetrating sound, a call to "reality"...

    It was a good remembrance because they used to chant the "evening gatha" too, after the last period on the night... in japanese and portuguese I guess.

    I made some research here in Internet and found out this, without these precious details brought to us by Taigu...

    Thanks, Taigu... looking forward for some more comments on this subject.

    Maybe there is some book on this subject... on how those instruments became used in Japanese ritual music... were it brought to Japan from China... I mean... ritualistic zen music... Does anyone here knows...? please share...

    Thanks again.

    Gassho,

    Marcos
    _/|\_

    Kyōsei

    強 Kyō
    声 Sei

    Namu kie Butsu, Namu kie Ho, Namu kie So.

  5. #5
    The very best for you is to go to a practice place and experience these sounds with your body-mind in stillness and motion, to learn through being and doing, hands on. And yes, most instruments did come from China with a few adjustments. No English book as far as I know but some stuff in Japanese, I have seen a couple of books on the subject.

    Gassho

  6. #6
    Thank you teacher,


    Gassho,
    Edward

  7. #7
    By the way, here is a nice list of many of the traditional instruments, bells and drums, found around a Zen temple in China or Japan. (The descriptions are in English, Japanese and Hungarian!)

    http://terebess.hu/zen/szoto/hangszersz.html

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-22-2013 at 03:10 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Thank you, Jundo. Will read the page.

    Does anyone know anything about "zennish" music... Shakuhachi, and like?

    Some time ago, I knew a musician here in Brasil who arranjed and recorded some traditional Sutras... so cool.

    Here is his link: http://www.franciscocasaverde.com/zen_audio.html

    Gassho,

    Marcos
    _/|\_

    Kyōsei

    強 Kyō
    声 Sei

    Namu kie Butsu, Namu kie Ho, Namu kie So.

  9. #9
    Nice recordings. Downloaded 'Sutra do Coraçäo en português. It's a keeper.

    Thank you Marcos.


    Gassho,
    Edward

  10. #10
    This is an interesting old thread I found, thanks Kyosei and thanks for the link to the page with the names and descriptions Jundo.
    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  11. #11

  12. #12
    Thank you for finding this thread Jakuden and for raising the initial question Kyosei. Like Kyosei, I am a musician and am fascinated by the sounds Personally I have long been enthralled with the Tibetan singing bowls which I realize are unrelated and yet related to Zen. There is really something ear catching about the sharp sound of the mokugyo.

    I appreciated the link Jundo posted above.

    Gassho
    Warren
    Sat today with bells

  13. #13
    A show I saw recently


    Back before I started Zazen and continuing to present , I used a bass recorder or Irish whistle as a breathing exercise for relaxation

    Sat
    Marc Connery
    明岩
    Myo̅ Gan - Bright Cliff

    I put the Monkey in Monkeymind

  14. #14
    Neat-o! Love shakuhachi. Thank you for the link, Marc, I'll enjoy watching this.

    Gassho
    Byōkan
    sat today

  15. #15

    Instruments on Zen

    I love the shakuhachi too. I was thinking of getting one but everything I've read suggests that it's pretty hard to learn. Plus the notation is complex and is n Japanese.

    Gassho,

    Kirk


    I know nothing.
    I know nothing.

  16. #16
    Very nice, thank you for the link Myogan!

    As an aside, if anyone is interested, you can purchase a recording of the ZMM chants and ceremonies at the Monastery Store Online, it is pretty inexpensive. Many of the percussion instruments discussed above can be heard in it.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  17. #17
    Lovely.Thank you, Marc. I too love listening to shakuhachi and enjoyed
    the link you have shared.

    Gassho
    Washin
    sat today

  18. #18
    Thank you Myogan ... I also try and play the Shakuhachi. Mind you as I am self taught, it sounds more like fingers on a chalk board then a beautiful expression of sound.

    Photo on 2017-02-15 at 7.03 AM.jpg

    Gassho
    Shingen

    s@today
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  19. #19
    To keep the cost down, maybe you can try this: http://www.fides.dti.ne.jp/~sogawa/englishpagepvc.html
    If you just can't get the hang of it, you could use the materials in the kitchen...or the bathroom

    Gassho, Ronald

    With gentleness overcome anger. With generosity overcome meanness. With truth overcome deceit.
    Buddha

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Ronchan View Post
    To keep the cost down, maybe you can try this: http://www.fides.dti.ne.jp/~sogawa/englishpagepvc.html
    If you just can't get the hang of it, you could use the materials in the kitchen...or the bathroom

    Gassho, Ronald

    Hello,

    Thank you for the lesson.


    Gassho
    Myosha
    sat today

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