News :: 2013

Ring my bell: Music for Tibet

By Reynard Lki

Tibetan bells

Tibetan bells Flickr/Rick Shinozaki

Today is Tibet Democracy Day. So find your inner bodhisattva and listen to some music that won't make the Dalai Lama reach for his earplugs.

"I am not much interested in music and these things," the Dalai Lama told the media before last year's One World Concert at the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University. When specifically asked about modern music, he laughed, plugging his ears, but said he respected and admired musicians and acknowledged that music can powerfully convey a "message of peace and conciliation…to reach millions of people."

From the Beastie Boys to Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers to Dave Matthews Band, there have many musical artists over the years who have rocked out to support the Tibetan cause. But sometimes, sending a message of peace is ideally served with music that's, well, peaceful. And when it comes to Tibet, there are few more peace-inducing sounds than that of Tibetan bells, which were famously used in a classic 1971 LP by Henry Wolff and Nancy Hennings: Tibetan Bells I.

It was their first collaboration, which was recorded in London in 1971 and released by Island Records. "The duo expresses a relaxed concept of time, and their subtly textured music almost sounds synthesized," wrote Jud Rosebush, reviewing the record for The Village Voice in 1974. In his article "101 Strangest Records on Spotify," Rob Fitzpatrick of The Guardian called their debut LP "a seriously popular gateway record into the emergent New Age and yogic music." Wolff described their second release as "a space-poem."

Of course, while Wolff and Hennings used actual Tibetan bells in this series of records, they didn't actually make traditional Tibetan music. But the ethereal soundscapes they achieve have remained an excellent accompaniment to many types of meditative states for over four decades.

So to celebrate the concept of democracy in Tibet — and to help you achieve a monk-like state of transcendence — sit back, relax and let the soothing sounds of Wolff and Hennings' Tibetan Bells IV: The Bells of Sha'ng Shu'ng send a message of peace into the inner recesses of your mind.

Published in BlackBookMag

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