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Williams, Richard David (2020) 'Sounding Out the Divine: Musical Practice as Theology in Samāj Gāyan.' In: Flood, Gavin D., (ed.), The Oxford History of Hinduism: Hindu Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 342-361.

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From Vedic sacrifices to kīrtan podcasts, sound art and music shape how Hindu religions are experienced. Nonetheless, the social and discursive value of music is easily underemphasized in accounts of religious practice and thought: frequently, music is either viewed as a technical field—best left alone by non-specialists—or taken for granted and dismissed as part of the ‘background’ in rituals and texts. However, the auditory dimensions of religion have very real consequences: historically, musical transmission has been crucial in the dissemination of ideas and texts, while soundscapes and performance genres continue to cultivate identities and moral positions. There is more to music than decoration or mediation: in some contexts, it is possible to consider music and sonic practices as the substance of a theological system, the centre of gravity for doctrine, behaviour, and soteriology.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Keywords: music, practice, Vaiṣṇava, bhakti, visualization
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts > Department of Music
ISBN: 9780198733508
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 26 May 2020 07:56

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