TROWO PHURNAG CEREMONY
Closing the festival program at HAU with a Sunday afternoon sonic ritual are Phurpa, a throat singing choir deeply-rooted in the ancient magical traditions of the pre-buddhist Bon religion. While staying true to authentic practices and using ritual instruments, the choir takes the poly-phonic singing style of Tibetan ritual music to a lower key and a slower pace to invigorate archaic sonic evolutions of spectral glory.
Phurpa’s voyage began in mid 90s Moscow, when a group of artists and musicians led by Alexei Tegin and based at the legendary Fabrique of Cardinal Art began studies of traditional ritual music, drifting away from the field of contemporary electroacoustic and industrial music with the intent to delve deeper into the ancient musical cultures of Egypt, Iran, and Tibet.
The original 2003 line-up of the resulting project was dubbed Phurpa (one of the five tutelary deities of the Father Tantra in the Bon tradition). All members continued to pursue research in the field of Bon and Buddhist liturgies up to the present day, recently releasing a critically acclaimed Phurpa album on Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ label.
Before Buddhism reached Tibet, local people practiced shamanic rites derived from various ancestral cults. Later on, circa the 6th–9th century AD, a conflict between the local tradition, namely, the pre-Buddhist religion of Bon (which originates from Central Asia) and Tantric Buddhism (hailing from the North of India), gave birth to a unique cultural phenomenon known as Tibetan Buddhism, which combines an extensive metaphysical corpus and an advanced philosophical system with pristine ceremonial practices that reach down through many centuries.
In the 10th-11th century AD, the monastic ensemble came into being. While sharing much in common with the Chinese court ensembles of the Tang dynasty, the Tibetan ceremonial ensemble has, to this day, preserved its authenticity and kept a large number of primordial elements from the ancient Tibeto-Burmanese music intact.
A typical ensemble usually includes a pair of nga drums, several rolmo cymbals, a pair of gyaling oboes, telescopic dunchen horns, dunkar shells, and short wandun horns. One of the unique features of the Tibetan monastic choir is a specific kind of overtone chanting, called »rgyud-skad«, or the Tantric voice, which is based on the principle of the singer’s transmogrification during the so-called »chanting meditation«.
For their peformance at HAU 2, the Phurpa choir will consist of Alexei Tegin, Alexey Koltsov, Eduard Utukin, and Pavel Selchukov. Instruments used include tibetan drums (damaru, nga), bone and bronze trumpets (kanlin), Tibetan shawm (gyalin), Tibetan cymbals (bup, silnyen, rol mo), shell trumpets, (dunkar), Tibetan singing bowl, Tibetan flat bells (shang), and Tibetan telescopic trumpets (dunchen).