The Performance Practice of Buddhist Baiqi in Contemporary Taiwan
Provine, Robert C.
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The baiqi (Buddhist percussive instruments), also known as faqi (dharma instruments), are mentioned in the Chinese Buddhist scriptures under many different terms: jianzhi, jiandi, jianzhui, or jianchi. The original function of baiqi in earlier monastic life was to gather people or to call an assembly. With the completion of monasticism and monastic institutions, baiqi have become multifunctional in monasteries, and many baiqi instruments have been developed for different monastic applications. In contemporary Buddhist monasteries in Taiwan, baiqi are used, on the one hand, to mark the time throughout the day, signal the beginning and end of monastic daily activities, and regulate the monastic order; and on the other hand, baiqi are indispensable to the musical practices of all Buddhist rituals, where they are used to accompany fanbai (Buddhist liturgical chants) and to articulate the whole ritual process. This study investigates multiple facets of Buddhist baiqi in their performance practice, function, application, notation, and transmission, exploring the interaction between baiqi and fanbai, baiqi and the practitioner, baiqi and the monastic space, and baiqi and various Buddhist contexts. I draw upon ideas from performance theory as it concerns different disciplines, but I maintain a sharper focus on the musicological dimension of performance practice when analyzing, interpreting, and explaining the performance and music of baiqi in terms of the monastic lifestyle and its rituals. The study not only uncovers the musical system of baiqi, but also encapsulates various issues of performed identity, social interaction, performer/audience, associated behaviors, the musical construction of space, and transmission.