Social shifts and viable musical futures: The case of Cambodian smot
For centuries, the musical, social, and liturgical practice of smot (also “Cambodian Buddhist chanting” or “Cambodian Dharma songs”) has played an important role in Buddhist ritual in Cambodia. Traditionally performed by a solo singer of either gender, smot is sung in Khmer (the language of the majority Khmer people of Cambodia), Pali (the liturgical language of Th eravada Buddhism, now extinct as a mother tongue), or a combination of both. Th e poetic texts typically refer to the Buddha’s life and teachings, traditional Khmer stories, and religious and moral principlesespecially that of gratitude to one’s parents. According to Walker: the expressive melodies and lyrics of these Dharma songs are intended to evoke the aesthetic experiences of stirring (Pali: saṃvega ) and stilling (Pali: pasāda ); that is, being stirred by the shocking frailty, misery, and futility of life and being stilled by the serene trust that practicing generosity, living ethically, and cultivating the heart will lead to liberation.
Ethnomusicology: A Contemporary Reader, Volume II
Musicology and Ethnomusicology