The innovative book explores religion through music-the source of spiritual elation, social cohesion, and empowerment in cultures around the world. 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 conductive 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 utterane, is not incidental in religious practice but a sacred treasure that is central to the growth and sustenance of religions through out the world. Musical sound is sacred in most religions because it embodies the divine and can be shared by all participants. It endures among diverse communities of people despite theological differences.
The contributors to this volume 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.
About the Author(s)
Guy L. Beck spent over six years in India researching Indian religions and music. He holds degrees in both religious studies and musicology and currently teaches at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. He was recently a visiting fellow at Oxford University. A scholar and musician, Guy Beck is the author of Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound (1993) as well as numerous articles on Indian religions and music. He has also released two CDs of Indian vocal music.