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The Theravada tradition of Buddhism is typically associated with monastic purity and austerity. But according to Trent Walker, a scholar of Southeast Asian Buddhist music, this is only a half-truth, as it ignores the rich and vast traditions of Theravada liturgical music. In his article in the Spring issue of Tricycle, “Dharma Songs to Stir and Settle,” Walker offers an introduction to the Cambodian dharma song tradition, with a particular emphasis on the affective states that dharma songs elicit. For Walker, dharma songs strike a balance between aesthetic expression and monastic austerity.

In today’s episode of Tricycle Talks, you’ll hear Walker perform a couple of dharma songs and discuss classical South Asian theories of emotion, his hopes for the future of Buddhist studies, and how music and aesthetics fit into the Buddhist path to salvation.

Tricycle Talks is a podcast series featuring leading voices in the contemporary Buddhist world. You can listen to more Tricycle Talks on Spotify, iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio.

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