I’ve visited quite a few Chinese Buddhist temples in my day, and those temples invariably have Buddhist music playing in the gift shop. I’m frequently somewhat attracted to that music, even though I can’t understand it. There’s just something about the chanting… the feel of it. I never liked it enough to actually buy a CD, though.
Recently I had the idea of looking for this kind of music online. Baidu’s MP3 search was the natural place to start. (See my tutorial on it if you don’t know how to use it.)
First I did a search for 佛教 歌 (buddhims, songs) in Baidu web search. I clicked on the top result (on fowang.org). Sure enough, it was a listing of Buddhist songs. They were supposed to be downloadable MP3s, but none of the links worked. No problem.
I opened a new tab and went to Baidu’s MP3 search. I copied and pasted what I deemed to be key words from the names of the songs in the fowang.org listing. I got some decent results with the following terms (click on the Chinese to see the search results):
– 佛 (Fó, Buddha)
– 阿弥陀佛 (Ēmítuófó, “Buddha preserve us.” A common refrain in Buddhist prayer, also known as Amithabha.)
– 观音 (Guānyīn, Goddess of Mercy)
– 菩萨 (Púsà, Bodhisattva)
– 经 (jīng, used in scripture/prayer names)
– 咒: 大悲咒, 大明咒, 普庵咒 (zhòu, something like “incantation,” used in the names of ceremonies)
– 梵唱 (fànchàng, Buddhist chanting)
I’m no expert on Buddhism, so if I’m off on any of these brief explanations, feel free to let me know.
Obviously, you don’t have to stick to these searches; you can find your own terms and copy and paste them into the MP3 search box, even if you can’t type Chinese. Your computer will need to support GB2312 (Simplified Chinese) encoding, however. Baidu doesn’t use Unicode.
If you can view Chinese in your browser but can’t read it, you can still download the songs that Baidu MP3 search turns up. Look for songs with a relatively large filesize (over 1 M). Rightclick, then “Save as.” You may want to rename the file when you save it.
That should give you a taste of some Chinese Buddhist music. If you like it, consider making a visit to a Chinese temple and actually buying a CD.