Tibet Buddha Music Project

Member Profiles

Ge-Qu (Full Name: Ge Sang Qu Jie)
Male. Ge-Qu was born on November 15, 1954 in Lhasa city. Currently, he is engaged in research on Tibetan national music at the Tibet National Arts Research Institute, and holds the position of assistant researcher. He is also the president of the Chinese Musicians Society, a member of the National Music Society of Asia and Pacific Region, a director of both Chinese Traditional Music Society and the Chinese Minorities Music Society, the chief editor for “Tibet Volume” which is a collection of Chinese national folk instrumental music and Chinese folk songs, and also a member of Tibetan Literary Magazine committee. From September 1963 to August 1969, he attended specialized music classes at the Cultural Arts Department of Beijing’s Central Academy For Nationalities. From August 1969 to May 1971, he worked for the Tibetan Theatrical Troupe. From May 1971 to February 1977, he served as an instrumentalist for the Song-and-Dance Troupe Orchestra of Xi-Hu autonomous region. From March 1977 to March 1980, he took courses in orchestral instruments at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. From March 1980 to 1989, he was a teacher at the Tibetan Arts School who taught music theory and instrumental music. At the same time, he also held a concurrent post as director for educational administration. From 1990 until the present, he has been working in the Tibetan National Arts Research Institute.

Research Achievement – Over the past 10 years, he has completed two collections on national scientific research, and has officially published more than 20 essays regarding Tibetan traditional folk music in various academic magazines and publications in Tibet and other cities, with a total of more than 200,000 words. In October 1994, he was invited by the Korean ruling party to attend the first academic convention held in Seoul which was organized by the National Music Society of Asia and Pacific Region. At the convention, he read out the essay, “The Type, Region, Style, and Characteristic of the Folk Songs of Tibetan Ali at the World’s Summit”. His essay also won the third prize in the first-ever essay-judging event for young and mid-adult’s division that was hosted by the Chinese Traditional Music Society.

On-going Research Project – In addition to completion of the two collections for his project unit, he is researching and writing a book entitled “Tibetan Buddhist Music”. The book expounds the Tibetan Buddhist music comprehensively and systematically through the introduction of different kinds of music in Tibetan Buddhist temples, and combining different aspects of instrumental music, Buddhist chants (including folk “Ma-Ni” tone), recitation and singing music, Tibetan operas, musical scores, etc. The book is estimated to reach 200,000 words in length. At present, four chapters have been completed which are summarized as follows: Tibetan Buddhist instrumental music, Buddhist chants, and 图文数谱. He is now working on the chapter regarding recitation and singing music, and the completed sections already contained around 145,000 words. The remaining two chapters, Tibetan opera music and temple “Ka-Er” music, as well as the other half of recitation and singing music chapters have not yet been written down.
Li Chin Sung
Male. Li Chin Sung was born on January 1, 1969 in Putian, Fujian province of China. He immigrated to Hong Kong at his early age. Currently, he is engaged in the music and cultural establishment. He set up his record company before graduated from arts school, and has dedicated himself to the music industry up to the present for more than 20 years. Business includes music production, distribution, promotion, import/export, publishing, artist management, music and cultural performances etc. Furthermore, he has been paying close attention to the development of the music and cultural market in Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Li himself is an avant-garde composer, also a member of Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong Ltd. In 96, his debut solo album was released by Tzadik label in US under the production of John Zorn. Over the past years, he has produced more than 40 albums for artists in Mainland China, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, HK etc. In 99, he was invited to participate in the music production of Tibetan big opera “Qomolangma song & dance opera” as the composer, arranger and producer. Provided by this opportunity, he went to Tibet and obtained an in-depth knowledge on Tibetan music. He then met Ge-Qu and started to participate in the academic research on Tibetan music. He wishes to apply his valuable experiences in the music industry accumulated over the years in a more meaningful kind of academic research on music. And, with the help of network, hope to enhance the circulation and exchange of knowledge to reach a higher level.

Mission and Vision

To contribute to the promotion and preservation of the Tibetan primitive music as a cultural treasure, and to provide for correct and extensive knowledge on this national treasure left behind by its ancestors.

To provide complete information for academic research and to advocate for humane activities through comprehensive documentation of written words, sounds, pictures, and video materials.

Topics For Future Proceedings

Tibetan traditional folk music is rich and unique. It is one of the essential aspects of Tibetan traditional culture, and also one of the most precious cultural heritage of mankind. Nonetheless, up until now, this precious cultural heritage basically remains to be an uncultivated territory that also faces the risk of being washed away. Thus, the collection, arrangement, research, introduction and publication of Tibetan traditional folk music remain a long-term objective and a project of this magnitude requires considerable effort. With these objectives in mind, we plan to conduct the following monographic studies within a certain period of time. After the completion of the book “Tibetan Buddhist Music”, we will proceed to the research and writing of Tibetan Bon Music including music, pictures, and documentary films. Bon is Tibet’s native religion. Its existence was recorded on the Qinghai-Tibet plains a thousand years before Buddhism was even introduced into Tibet. Bon music is similar to Bon itself. Although it has blended with Buddhism in many aspects, it retained many of its traditions and characteristics that hold vital significance towards the research of Tibetan music culture, Buddhist music and national music festival during the early periods. In addition, we plan to create an accurate and systematic compilation of “Tibetan Traditional Music Series” complete with sounds, writings, and pictures. (for details, please see “Tibetan Traditional Music Series” Conceptualization)

For our long-term goals, we also intend to conduct monographic studies on different varieties of Tibetan traditional music and match it with related music to make the content more detailed, systematic, comprehensive and substantial. In addition to this, various essays on Tibetan national music research will be released to deepen interests in further research on Tibetan traditional music.

“Tibetan Traditional Music Series” – Conceptualization

Numerous music products related to Tibetan traditional folk music have been released locally and internationally. These products had mostly used Tibetan music as a major element and as the foundation for further creativity. However, a more comprehensive, systematic and authentic version of Tibetan folk music released by actual Tibetan scholars or musicians are still unavailable. Even with the number of releases on Tibetan traditional music, due to the limited understanding of the producers with Tibetan music and the improper usage of editing methods, these releases turned out to be disorderly and were marked by a distinct absence of proper distinction among regional cultures, musical styles and in-depth descriptions of historical origins. Not only did the classification failed to conform to traditional practice of Tibetan history, it was also lacking in proper categorization. Thus, in the end, it had failed to provide a more complete and clearer picture of Tibetan traditional music which had been formed historically through time, further developed and preserved until the present-day version.

On account of this, the present musical series has established the classification of Tibetan traditional music into six categories, including folk song, folk instrumental music, recitation and singing music, Tibetan operas, religious music, and “Ka-Er” music. Each category will further branch out into one or more subtypes, thus aiming to present a complete and comprehensive picture of each category. (for specific details, see “Detailed Catalog of Editing Content”) Each of these categories, when complete, will make up the complete series which will mark the re-appearance of Tibetan traditional music

Selection and arrangement of music in the series will be aimed at providing a complete and representative selection for each category. This whole series is projected to contain at least 15 albums, with an approximate duration of 60 minutes for each album. The breakdown of album quantity for each music category will be as follows: 7 albums for folk song, 1 album for folk instrumental music, 1 album for recitation and singing music, 2 albums for Tibetan operas, 3 albums for religious music, one album for “Ka-Er” Music, making a total of 15 albums. The projected album quantity might increase if the content for each music category became more enriched, substantial, detailed, or more complete, thus needing a bigger space for its expression.

In addition to using a rational and scientific nature in music editing, a brief introductory text will be included in each music category, which aims to help make the whole series more systematic, scientific, historical and accurate. This introduction will present the historical origins, circulation ranges, functional usage, formal characteristics, expressive content, etc.

The ultimate goal of creating this series is to present the most complete and accurate representation of Tibetan traditional music, with high academic, historical, utilization and collector’s value. It is the producer’s aim that this series will be recognized as the essential material of Tibetan music for local or international culture and arts research organizations, teaching institutions, music societies, and people from all walks of society who have interests in Tibetan music culture.
Detailed Catalogue of Editing Content

I. Folk Song
1. 藏北牧区民歌
2. 卫藏(中部)农区民歌
3. 工布(林芝)林区民歌
4. 藏东康区民歌
5. 堆谐,囊玛
6. 门巴,珞巴, 人,夏尔巴人,纳西族

II. Folk Instrumental Music
1. 竖笛,口簧,霍尔琴,牛角琴,昌都扎念,林芝俗人美姆,夺达玛

III. Recitation and Singing Music
1. 喇嘛玛尼
2. 格萨尔说唱
3. 民间故事说唱

IV. Tibetan Opera Music
1. 篮面具藏戏
2. 白面真藏戏
3. 昌都江达戏
4. 门巴戏

V. Religious Music
1. Religious Instrumental Music
2. Religious Chants

VI. Ka-Er Music
1. 阿里卡尔
2. 日喀则卡尔
3. 拉萨卡尔
4. 昌都卡尔
“Tibetan Buddhist Music Research” – Content Summary
Tibetan Buddhist music combines musical forms and expressive content of Tibet’s native religion Bon as well as India’s Buddhist music. It is also shaped by the creativity and development of Tibetan Buddhism through the years. Thus, the resulting Tibetan Buddhist music is a system of Buddhist music that is considered to be theoretical, systematic and unique. It represents an important part of both Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan traditional music with distinct national features. The whole series entitled “Tibetan Buddhist Music Research” contains seven chapters.

Chapter One – Summary – The chapter narrates the history and culture of Tibet, especially focusing on the history and development of the renowned sects in Tibetan Buddhism. From this historical background, it further describes how the Tibetan Buddhist music came into existence, as well as a narrative of its formation and development. It also reveals and discusses the interrelationships and mutual influences between Tibetan Buddhist music, Tibetan Bon music, Tibetan traditional folk music and music from surrounding regions and nations. This chapter is divided into four sections.

Chapter Two – Buddhist Chants – The chapter introduces and describes the types, origins, and utilization of Buddhist chants in Tibetan Buddhist temples and among folk society. It further elaborates on the scriptures, ceremonies, activities, rituals, musical characteristics, etc., of Buddhist Chants. This chapter is divided into three sections.

Chapter Three – Buddhist Instrumental Music – The chapter classifies and describes the structures, special characteristics, origins, functions, utilization, practices, performances, and musical selections of each and every kind of instrument used in Tibetan Buddhist instrumental music. In addition, it also describes ensemble forms, performance patterns, processing methods, and functions of these instruments. This chapter is divided into three sections.

Chapter Four – Buddhist Musical Scores – The chapter summarizes the different categories, formal characteristics, performances, recitation and singing patterns, and 傳承 of musical scores in Tibetan Buddhist music. Each category contains musical scores with their own typical significance. Scores with distinct features also provide samples from original scores, as well as description and comparison between numbered musical notation and musical notation. This chapter is divided into two sections.

Chapter Five – Recitation and Singing Music (Lama-Mani) – The chapter narrates the origins, history, branches, distribution, activities, tunes, musical characteristics, etc., of Tibetan Buddhist Lama-Mani recitation and singing music.

Chapter Six – “Ka-Er” Music of Buddhist Temples – The chapter states the origins, distribution, performance methods, functional usage, musical characteristics, musical selections, etc., of “Ka-Er” Music.

Chapter Seven – Tibetan Opera Music at the temple – The chapter contains the origins, history, branches, theatrical troupe distribution, music, accompaniment, performance circulation and play list of Tibetan Opera.

“Tibetan Buddhist Music Research” was written based on data investigated and gathered by Mr. Ge-Qu over the last 10 years from hundreds of representative Tibetan Buddhist temples of different communions in Tibet. It was also based on information obtained and analyzed from Tibetan historical books, written documentation of music in Buddhist scriptures, and historical writings that were all related to music. At present, four chapters and around half of chapter five have been completed. In addition to the introductory text in Chapters two, three, four, and five, comprehensive samples of musical scores are provided as well. The remaining unfinished chapters will have similar patterns of introductory text and samples of musical scores for better descriptive purposes. After completing all the chapter texts, we plan to proceed immediately to the recording of audio and video materials to further develop the series into a complete selection of written text, with audio and video accompaniment, thus provide a more complete and clearer picture of Tibetan Buddhist music. Li Chin Sung will handle audio and video productions which are estimated to be completed within a six-month period. Audio production will consist of in-studio and live recordings with the use of digital equipments. Video production will also include photographic picture-taking.