A C T I V I T I E S   ии  S O U N D

R  E  S  O  U   R  C  E  S

The most common use of sound in the Theravadin tradition is recitation from the Tipitika - sutta or vinaya - i.e. chanting. The teachings have been transmitted orally for 2500 years and this continues with a great deal of teaching and training being given through talks - often quite spontaneous - both formal and informal. As a means of communication the voice, and sound generally, functions not only on the level of exchanging literal, practical information but at the potentially much deeper level of concepts and feelings. However, working with young people over the years, I have found that 'just talking' is too cerebral and concentration soon wanes. There needs to be some action! - and not always just for the kids.
The 'language' of our inner world is not often a shared language and the use of rhythmic, symbolic and poetic forms can be an easier medium for contact, sharing and discussion. A fundamental aspect of the Buddha's teaching is 'non-self' - [see: TEACHINGS - ANATTA] - and using sound as a collective vehicle can be a way of moving outside our self-ish containers into a more communal space - there is a melding (what a lovely word). We can blend, melt, fuse, join, combine - and then we can meld. Hmmmm.

This item is relatively brief on three counts:
The Theravadin form uses sound relatively little so it is not easy connecting the medium with traditional symbols (no pun intended), and,
Good material is not so easily come by (please let me know of your favourites) and,
Words and pictures are easy but the web is not really sound sorted enough yet. Still, there are a few MP3 downloads and a couple of music scores. I imagine it will get easier.

Chanting is excellent for developing concentration; it strengthens the mind (as does any memory exercise) and requires patience and determination to learn (with the resultant strengthening of those qualities). Contemplation of the chant's literal meaning also has great value. Chanting is not a common, Western form and needs to be an 'acquired taste' for some. It often has specific religious, cultural connotations which may put some people off. There is an extensive discussion on chanting in: LIFESTYLE - MONASTIC. There is a link to both text and sound files under RESOURCES.. Of the chants the metta sutta - the discourse of loving-kindness - is very accessible, as is Imina Punya.

These can be thought of as having some inherent esoteric value but my own feeling is that it is better to approach them as just another meditation object. As such they are best relatively simple, and any implicit meaning able to be contemplated. So, almost any word group - or even sounds - can be used although the emphasis is best on goodness or positivity. Try repeating the word 'love' a thousand time over. What is the result? Each tradition will have a variety of phrases set to a variety of 'melodies' and it is difficult to convey the usefulness of this technique in words.
Download the MP3 and have a listen: The words and files are all - here.
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa.
Namo Sakyamuni Buddha.
The winds of change are gonna blow you away, Seek the centre of the storm each day.
   The winds of change are gonna tear you apart, Find the silence of the peaceful heart.
Do good, refrain from wrong and purify the mind.
There's a jewelled lotus flower unfolding....
Here are a couple more Pali mantras - words, no sound.


Several of the songs here have resulted from a series of musicals see: Drama - Theatre.
Download the MP3 and have a listen: The words and files are all - here.
I am a Child of Light - simple lyrics with a lovely melody. Easy to sing along with.
We are all One Family - Nice lyrics around inter-dependence. Good sing along.
The Pilgrim's Quest - A song about the four 'divine abodes' - Loving Kindness, Compassion, Empathetic Joy & Equanimity.
The White Bird - The chorus of a song about the Story of the Buddha's cousin shooting a swan.
Bodhi Tree - A superb sing-a-long for younger kids on temptation.
Butterfly - All about generosity.
Here are a few more song lyrics - here


There is nothing like a good story to get an idea across. The traditional range of Buddhist stories are found in the Jataka Tales - over 500 past-life stories said to have been related by the Buddha to his disciples. These need not be necessarily seen as historical but as fables, pointing to deeper truths about what it means to be human. There are an increasing number of good renditions of these stories available in print. Here are four quite short renditions - and one longer. There are links to a good selection of over twenty tales here.
As well as the Jataka stories the life story of the Buddha contains many good tales of human interaction - difficulties, resolutions, joys, delights, gains and losses. [see: ART & - LIFE STORY].

There is one (not Buddhist) story you could look at - here - otherwise - it's surf the web, visit the library or bookshop.
There are a few comic renditions of Jataka stories on Buddha Net.

Humming: How do you hum different emotions? It can be used in the same way as 'Alphabet' - Drama - Sitting About as an interactive. Harmony can be the clear intention from the outset. What's loveable about a hum? Needlessness. It stops, or continues.
Toning: Another non-musical noise collective. Everybody just makes a noise - hum, aahhhh, oooh, zzzzzz. The idea is to listen to the group and allow it to moderate you tone, without deliberately changing it. Allow the group tone to emerge.
Drumming: This can be led, using a variety of percussion items or - try the toning approach and see if cacophony can arrive at harmony. Percussion can be used to 'dress' a story - or rap - or drama. Make your own drums - a rubber sandal hitting the end of a pipe is excellent. Car inner tube stretched tightly over the end of any open-ended cylinder is great.
All: Try using instruments to have a conversation; to express emotions. Which ones are best for which effects? People can accompany pre-recorded music / sounds. Listen to it first. What feelings or emotions result? How can you express that with the instruments available.

RAP . . .
is a brilliant medium which can be used with great effect in developing any theme. Write one - rap it - shtik ya stamp on it - deliver it!

A sample from 'The Singing Chickens' - words [3 kb]   sound [180kb]