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Article

Popular Songs, Melodies from the Dead: Moving beyond Historicism with the Buddhist Ethics and Aesthetics of Pin Peat and Cambodian Hip Hop

Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA
Religions 2020, 11(11), 625; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11110625
Received: 1 October 2020 / Revised: 7 November 2020 / Accepted: 9 November 2020 / Published: 22 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Music, Sound, and the Sacred)
This article illustrates how the aesthetics of two types of Cambodian music—pin peat and Cambodian hip hop—enact Cambodian–Buddhist ethics and function as ritual practices through musicians’ recollections of deceased teachers’ musical legacies. Noting how prevalent historicist and secular epistemologies isolate Cambodian and, more broadly, Southeast Asian musical aesthetics from their ethical and ritual functions, I propose that analyses focusing on Buddhist ethics more closely translate the moral, religious, and ontological aspects inherent in playing and listening to Cambodian music. I detail how Cambodian musicians’ widespread practices of quoting deceased teachers’ variations, repurposing old musical styles, and reiterating the melodies and rhythms played by artistic ancestors have the potential to function as Buddhist rituals, whether those aesthetic and stylistic features surface in pin peat songs or in hip hop. Those aesthetic practices entail a modality of being historical that partially connects with but exceeds historicism’s approach to Buddhism, temporality, and history by enacting relations of mutual care that bring the living and dead to be ontologically coeval. Such relational practices bring me to conclude with a brief discussion rethinking what post-genocide remembrance sounds like and feels like. View Full-Text
Keywords: popular music; efficacy; musical aesthetics; historicism; Buddhist ethics; ontologies of living–dead relations; post-genocide remembrance popular music; efficacy; musical aesthetics; historicism; Buddhist ethics; ontologies of living–dead relations; post-genocide remembrance
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MDPI and ACS Style

Dyer, J. Popular Songs, Melodies from the Dead: Moving beyond Historicism with the Buddhist Ethics and Aesthetics of Pin Peat and Cambodian Hip Hop. Religions 2020, 11, 625. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11110625

AMA Style

Dyer J. Popular Songs, Melodies from the Dead: Moving beyond Historicism with the Buddhist Ethics and Aesthetics of Pin Peat and Cambodian Hip Hop. Religions. 2020; 11(11):625. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11110625

Chicago/Turabian Style

Dyer, Jeffrey. 2020. "Popular Songs, Melodies from the Dead: Moving beyond Historicism with the Buddhist Ethics and Aesthetics of Pin Peat and Cambodian Hip Hop" Religions 11, no. 11: 625. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11110625

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