chapter  8
10 Pages

Transmission of Shengguan Practice

This chapter focuses on shengguan practice at Wutaishan, it also demonstrates how traditional and religious music can find a way to be relevant in modern China. Wutaishan's shengguan music is one part religious devotion, one part tourist attraction, and one part nationally-valued cultural artifact. Monasteries that use their shengguan music not only in ritual, but also in the new contexts of concerts, festivals and commercial recordings take full advantage of the economic and political benefits of preserving this music. Buddhism teaches us that nothing is permanent; Wutaishan's Buddhist music demonstrates that a flexible tradition can adapt to rapid and drastic shifts in the social, political, and economic environment. The music attracts the attention and support of cultural cadres looking to preserve local musical heritage not for its ritual value, but for its historical and aesthetic interest.