Techung and Yangchen Lhamo: An Apprenticeship in Tibetan Damnyen and Yul Shae and Tho Shae songs

12 Aug 2011 03:24 5
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Musician and songwriter-in-exile Tashi Dhondup Sharzur (aka Techung) participated in ACTA's 2009 Apprenticeship Program with his daughter Yangchen Lhamo in San Mateo and El Cerrito, California. During their apprenticeship, instruction in Yul Shae (folk songs) and Tho Shae (light classical songs from Central Tibet) offered Yangchen a proper introduction to the damnyen (Tibetan six-stringed lute). Instruction in Tho Shae singing trained Yangchen's ability to strum and play the damnyen while singing.

Tibetan music is deeply rooted in the spiritual tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. For thousands of years, music and dance were used to offer reverance to local deities who are considered the protectors of Tibetan's environment. Through these traditions, musicians make connections to the spirit of nature and ask for support and protection. Until 1950, these traditional music forms lived only in communities in Tibet. After China's occupation of Tibet, the rich traditions of Tibetan music, dance, and drama were supressed. In the early 1960's, a group of master musicians went into exile in India and began slowly teaching these traditions to the younger generation. Techung, was one of the students to learn from these exiled masters.

As a young teenager in exile in Dharamsala, India, Techung learned to the play the damnyen from the late Gen Lusta. In addition to the damnyen, Techung was instucted in Yul Shae and Tho Shae. Techung has performed in India, the United States and Tibet as a soloist and educator, and in 1989 co-founded San Francisco-based Chaksam-Pa Tibetan Dance and Opera Company alongside Sonam Tashi and Yangchen's mother Tsering Wangmo.

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