conventions for pitch in chanting?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby echalon » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:05 am

I was wondering, could someone explain the conventions for pitch in chanting like that found at http://www.abhayagiri.org/main/media/#chanting? Is it a specifically Thai tradition? I'm hoping to memorize some portions of suttas, and I find it much easier to do so with pitches attached.
echalon
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:22 am

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:29 am

Hi echalon,

There are two completely separate issues here:

1. I believe I've heard Ajahn Amaro explain that the chanting style in English is based on the style of Medieval Christian chants (they have books with the pitch indicated: up, neutral, down).

2. As far as I can hear and read, Pali chanting by Thai speakers just inherits the Thai tone rules. I.e. when the Pali is transliterated into Thai characters each syllable has an implied "tone" that a Thai speaker will automatically use (and a non-Thai can deduce by following some arcane rules...). After chanting with Thai people for a few years, those are the tones I automatically use when chanting in Pali, and the same will be true for the the Ajahn Chah tradition monks. Speakers of other languages, such as Sinhalese or Burmese, will not use the same tones or quite the same pronunciation (listen to a Sri Lankan chant: "sambuddhasa" for example and you'll see what I mean - the final syllable which I'd pronounce "sah" becomes "serr" to my ear).

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10538
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby echalon » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:29 am

mikenz66 wrote:There are two completely separate issues here:


Sorry, I should have specified, I'm interested in the Pali, not English.

mikenz66 wrote:As far as I can hear and read, Pali chanting by Thai speakers just inherits the Thai tone rules. I.e. when the Pali is transliterated into Thai characters each syllable has an implied "tone" that a Thai speaker will automatically use (and a non-Thai can deduce by following some arcane rules...). After chanting with Thai people for a few years, those are the tones I automatically use when chanting in Pali, and the same will be true for the the Ajahn Chah tradition monks. Speakers of other languages, such as Sinhalese or Burmese, will not use the same tones or quite the same pronunciation (listen to a Sri Lankan chant: "sambuddhasa" for example and you'll see what I mean - the final syllable which I'd pronounce "sah" becomes "serr" to my ear).


This was what I thought I had heard. Can anyone speak Thai well enough to confirm this?
echalon
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:22 am

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby appicchato » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:51 am

A blurb on chanting technique can be seen on page 53 of the manual linked below... :pig:

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Artic ... _Notes.pdf
User avatar
appicchato
 
Posts: 1603
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:47 am
Location: Bridge on the River Kwae

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby appicchato » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:54 am

echalon wrote:Can anyone speak Thai well enough to confirm this?


Yes...
User avatar
appicchato
 
Posts: 1603
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:47 am
Location: Bridge on the River Kwae

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby echalon » Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:08 am

appicchato wrote:Yes...


Does it work something like http://www.thai-language.com/ref/tone-rules? Is it possible to derive the tone solely from the Pali syllable, with no explicit tone marks, like in that webpage? Could you explain how this works, or point me towards a reference that does?
echalon
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:22 am

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:17 am

echalon wrote:This was what I thought I had heard. Can anyone speak Thai well enough to confirm this?

Actually, listening to the chants on the Abahayagiri website, the tones are a little "toned down"...

To take an example:
Arahaṃ sammā-sambuddho bhagavā
Buddhaṃ bhagavantaṃ abhivādemi
In Thai transliteration that's http://www.thailandqa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=32134&
อะระหัง สัมมาสัมพุทโธ ภะคะวา พุทธัง ภะควันตัง อะภิวาเทมิ
You can look that up here: http://www.thai2english.com/online/tran ... ryId=43414 and you'll see that Arahaṃ comes out as
a-ra-hang with low-high-rising tones (and short "a"s!).
If you listen to the chant here by Thai speakers (first file of the morning chant):
http://www.forestmeditation.com/audio/audio.html
it's reasonably clear...

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10538
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:29 am

echalon wrote:Is it possible to derive the tone solely from the Pali syllable, with no explicit tone marks, like in that webpage?

Yes, part of learning to read Thai script is the tone rules...
Which are quite complicated as you can see from the "Tone Rule Summary" table on that page you linked to: http://www.thai-language.com/ref/tone-rules

You need to know the "class" of the consonant (low, mid high), whether the syllable is "live" or "dead" (long or short basically), whether it has an tone mark, and then apply the algorithm. Quite logical really... The Pali transliterations don't have tone marks, so that simplifies it a bit...

And then there are some slightly tricky exceptions, such as if there is no vowel then an "a" will get stuck in (as in svakkhato, which becomes sa wak khaa to)

Not something I'd suggest worrying about unless you actually want to learn Thai.

The place I linked to: http://www.thai2english.com/online/ will accept Thai script and figure out the rules for you...

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10538
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby appicchato » Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:29 am

echalon wrote:Does it work something like http://www.thai-language.com/ref/tone-rules?


Mmmm no...

Is it possible to derive the tone solely from the Pali syllable, with no explicit tone marks, like in that webpage?

Ditto...

Could you explain how this works, or point me towards a reference that does?


Fortunately (or unfortunately) I've not delved into the intricacies of this...I do know that you won't find 'tones' in Pali...not in my (limited) experience with the language...to learn Thai (and the tones) you've gone to the right website...but Pali is another kettle of fish...even though Thai has many, many words that are, or come from, Pali...

Combine that with the fact that variations, depending on where you are, even in Thailand, are myriad...there's no 'one size fits all'...rendering mastering any (other than a general) kind of technique pretty implausible...if I were asked...
User avatar
appicchato
 
Posts: 1603
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:47 am
Location: Bridge on the River Kwae

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:39 am

Yes as Ven Appicchato says, if your native language is written in Roman script it's probably most useful to put some effort into properly learning the rules for pronouncing Pali in Roman script. The tones that Thai speakers add are a local variation that has nothing to do with Pali. However, if you do happen to read Thai it's interesting to check out the Thai script versions...

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10538
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby appicchato » Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:40 am

mikenz66 wrote:And then there are some slightly tricky exceptions...


You're good Mike... :smile:

Also know that (in Thai) B's are pronounced like P's, and P's like B's...Pali is Bali (the island of Bali is enunciated Pali) ...Burma is Purma...same with L's and R's...the opposite...there are others...
User avatar
appicchato
 
Posts: 1603
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:47 am
Location: Bridge on the River Kwae

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:56 am

appicchato wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:And then there are some slightly tricky exceptions...


You're good Mike... :smile:

Also know that (in Thai) B's are pronounced like P's, and P's like B's...Pali is Bali (the island of Bali is enunciated Pali) ...Burma is Purma...same with L's and R's...the opposite...there are others...

If I remember correctly a similar conversation involved Ven Dhammanando a few months ago!
It was specifically about the V & W as I and some others were under the impression that in pali Amaravati was pronounced Amarawati but this was incorrect with the pronounciation being Amaravati. I'll have a search for the post to double check though.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5831
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby appicchato » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:10 am

Manapa wrote:It was specifically about the V & W...


In Thai there is no V...so everything (in English anyway) is a W...
User avatar
appicchato
 
Posts: 1603
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:47 am
Location: Bridge on the River Kwae

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:14 am

Here it is realised half way through looking through all of Bhantes posts that pronounce may give me a closer match if searched :thinking:

Dhammanando Bhikkhu wrote:The classical Pali grammars classify the consonant as dento-labial (i.e. requiring the upper front teeth to be in contact with the lower lip). So, v is more likely the correct pronunciation, since w is a bilabial consonant. But in practice SE Asian Buddhists will pronounce it as a w because their native tongues (Thai, Lao, Khmer etc.) don't have a v sound.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5831
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:18 am

appicchato wrote:
Manapa wrote:It was specifically about the V & W...

In Thai there is no V...so everything (in English anyway) is a W...

Hmm, I was going to say that...

Since many of us in the West have Thai or Thai-trained teachers this tends to rub off and we tend to not do "v"s in Pali either. It would sound a bit discordant in a group...

Actually, one of my teachers was originally from Bangladesh. Our (Thai) Abbot sometimes joked that I should be careful not to pick up the wrong Pali accent from him... :tongue:

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10538
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:26 am

mikenz66 wrote:Since many of us in the West have Thai or Thai-trained teachers this tends to rub off and we tend to not do "v"s in Pali either. It would sound a bit discordant in a group...

Actually, one of my teachers was originally from Bangladesh. Our (Thai) Abbot sometimes joked that I should be careful not to pick up the wrong Pali accent from him... :tongue:

Metta
Mike

I have heard and read (possibly from the same Burmese monk, & wiki) that the Sri Lankan pronunciation is considered closest to the original pronunciation, but it is probably one of those things, the queens english is proper english and every other dialect is wrong, but every other dialect will say they speak the queens english.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5831
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:55 am

Manapa wrote:I have heard and read (possibly from the same Burmese monk, & wiki) that the Sri Lankan pronunciation is considered closest to the original pronunciation, but it is probably one of those things, the queens english is proper english and every other dialect is wrong, but every other dialect will say they speak the queens english.

Since the Sri Lankans have a native language is much closer to Pali than Thai or Burmese are, I'm sure that's true. After all, Pali is an Indo-European languages, whereas Thai and Burmese are tonal languages in the Tai-Kadai and Sino-Tibetan families respectively...

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10538
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby appicchato » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:22 am

Manapa wrote:...the queens english is proper english and every other dialect is wrong, but every other dialect will say they speak the queens english.


<bites tongue>...
User avatar
appicchato
 
Posts: 1603
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:47 am
Location: Bridge on the River Kwae

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:27 am

appicchato wrote:
Manapa wrote:...the queens english is proper english and every other dialect is wrong, but every other dialect will say they speak the queens english.


<bites tongue>...

that was as an example not literal
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5831
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: conventions for pitch in chanting?

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:34 am

Ah but Manapa. :smile: .if you listen to the Queen herself recorded 50 years ago and more recently there is a huge difference in her pronounciation of certain words, it has softened considerably over the years.

Is the Chithust /Amaravati chanting consided authentic in the sense of pronounciation ?
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
Sanghamitta
 
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Next

Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 10 guests