Sacred Sound: Experiencing Music in World Religions

Front Cover
Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, Jul 17, 2006 - Music - 222 pages

Includes CD with 40 selections of music and chants. See Table of Contents for CD track playlist.

This innovative book explores religion through music, one of the most universally recognized forms of human experience. The only art form named after a divinity, music has been documented from prehistory to the present age in virtually all known cultures. For many, music is a vehicle for spiritual growth and community empowerment, whether it’s understood as a gift of the gods or simply a practice for achieving mental states conducive to enlightenment.

Traditionally, when religious scholars talk about music, it’s as a kind of aesthetic supplement to the important spiritual content of a religion, analogous to stained-glass windows or temple paintings. In contrast, Sacred Sound: Experiencing Music in World Religions acknowledges the critical role of musical activity in religious life. Music, including chant and vocal utterance, is not incidental in religious practice but a sacred treasure that is central to the growth and sustenance of religions throughout the world. Musical sound is sacred in most religions because it embodies the divine and can be shared by all participants, enduring among diverse communities of people despite theological differences.

Covering six of the major world religionsJudaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism—the book is accompanied by a CD of forty selections of music and chant. Contributors are respected scholars in religious studies and musicology and provide insight from both disciplines. The first book of its kind, Sacred Sound is a milestone in the growing cross-disciplinary study of religion and music.


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Judaism and Music
Christianity and Music
Islam and Music
Hinduism and Music
Sikhism and Music
Buddhism and Music

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About the author (2006)

Guy L. Beck spent over six years in India researching Indian religions and music. Holding degrees in both religious studies and musicology, he currently teaches at Tulane University, New Orleans, and was recently a visiting fellow at Oxford University. A scholar and musician, he is the author of Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound (1993) as well as numerous articles on Indian religions and music and has also released two CDs of Indian vocal music.

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