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Categories of Sacred Chant

Folks are often confused about the relationship between Kirtan and sacred chant. Here are a few insights...

1. Sacred chant is a broader category than Kirtan. Robert Gass's Chanting: Discovering Spirit in Sound, is a great look at how sacred chant shows up across all cultures. Kirtan is sacred chant from the Indian/Hindu and Sikh traditions. 

2. Within the category of sacred chant there are a number of categories, including:

  • Sanskrit/Bhakti Kirtan - think Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, etc. Short phrases in Sanskrit chanted in call and response fashion. 
  • Kundalini Yoga/Gurmukh Kirtan - think Snatam Kaur, Nirinjan Kaur, etc. Short phrases in Gurmukh chanted in call and response fashion. 
  • Vedic chants - Indian prayers with more text than a Kirtan sung in a particular musical style. Check out Ravi Shankar's Chants of India
  • Hebrew chants - short phrases in Hebrew sung in call and response fashion. Think Kirtan Rabbi, Yofiyah
  • Kirtan Mashups (Kirtan + English songs) - Kirtan mashed up with a pop/rock song. Think Donna DeLory, David Newman. 
  • Sacred/Journey songs - English songs that are designed to produce a sense of the sacred. Think Yaima

We teach songs from all of these categories in the super user friendly learning system we use across all of our offerings.

Curious? Check out our FREE class to learn 3 chants from the Vedic, Kundalini Yoga and Bhakti traditions. 


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