Michael Daniel Fine Arts Critique #3, The Mystical Arts of Tibet 11/16/2006 Buddhist Monks from India came

to IUP to perform their unique music and dance for the students. They came from Roseling monastery, which was located in Tibet until 1959 when it was relocated to India. The theme of the performance was harmony. They opened with music accompanied by a short ceremony. Three monks played massive bronze horns that looked to be about the size of Swiss mountain horns. The sounds from the horns were like that of an Australian didgeridoo. It was accompanied by cymbals, drums and trumpets. To me the music was cacophony. This probably reflects a different aesthetic for music, which is probably a result of cultural differences. There was no discernable rhythm. A procession came in and placed a photograph of the Dali Llama on an alter. The alter was at the back of the stage and it was full of flowers and artifacts which I assume had religious significance. The music all stopped at once and the 3 monks from the procession began singing. It was not any form of song that I have ever heard before. It was a deep, guttural drone. The tonality was like that of the large bronze horns and the pitches were cyclical. They began very loud and stayed loud for as long as they could, with the tone punctuated at the end with a high groan. The singer took a breath and sang again. When they began they had their hands in front of their mouths. After some time the instruments all joined in and the singers stopped holding their hands in front of their mouths. The effect of cacophony resumed. The song ended abruptly and the musicians all left the stage.

A song of interconnectedness was next. The announcer said that in the song ego was supposed to be released. There were drums, finger symbols and rhythmic chanting. This song was more harmonious but there was no discernable rhythm at first. After some time there was a pause in the music and when it began again a danceable rhythm emerged. They began to sing again. The song ended with a crescendo. They then performed a dance for the elimination of hindrances. Each dancer held a cup in one hand which symbolized mortality and in the other hand each dancer held a mystical dagger, which they believe is capable of getting to the heart of who we are. It was illustrative of a transindental journey. There were two dancers in ornate gold robes who danced in tandem to each other, which created a symmetry on the stage. They spun and leaped to cacophonic music that didn’t seem to have a danceable rhythm that I could discern. They then performed something called, “an intense encounter of the 3rd degree.” It was intense, monastic debate. I assume that this is where we get the phrase ‘giving somebody the 3rd degree’ from. The master asked questions which were punctuated with a violent clap, the students responded. The master pulled on his robes and removed them at one point. Some students had to physically hold him back sometimes because it looked like he was about to attack the student. They had a Chinese dragon come out and dance around to music. Well, at first I thought it was a dragon. It’s mannerisms were that of a puppy, though. It rolled around and scratched it’s fleas. It was cute. They ended by giving the three reasons why they came: 1. To motivate goodness. 2. To raise awareness of the Tibetan plight. 3. To preserve Tibetan culture.