Verse to Music

KVP’s Verse to Music sessions are part of a creative initiative to explore the role of art and music in bringing the Dharma to life in contemporary ways.

A focus of KVP is to produce translations in metered verse for many of the poems and songs composed by Khyentse Wangpo. We then invite musicians, poets, and artists to create their own interpretations of these verses and host sessions where we invite special guests to discuss related topics.

Verse to Music Session # 1

Our inaugural Verse to Music session was held in May 2022. In this session, KVP in-house translators Zack Beer and Christian Bernert met musicians Nick Demeris, Harry Einhorn, Alison Wells, Benny Oyama and Cy Gorman to discuss the challenges and joys involved in the process of putting Dharma verses to music.

We invited each of these musicians to put KVP’s metered version of the famous Praise to Mañjuśrī to music, in whatever style they wanted. The interpretations by various talented musicians from around the globe reflected a wide range of musical styles. Watch the recording of the live session which includes an introduction to the impetus behind our Verse to Music initiative by Dolma Gunther.:

 




 Nick Demeris, founder of Human Instruments, created this acapella-style interpretation and performance of the Praise to Mañjuśrī, incorporating soul, hip hop, reggae, blues, and pentatonic flavours. The animation artwork for the music video was produced by the talented visual artist Alicja Żmigrodzka.

Benny Oyama, an American singer-songwriter, created and performed this charming folk-style acoustic version of the Praise to Mañjuśrī:







Christian Bernert collaborated with Nguyễn Thanh Hùng to create this inspiring orchestral piece for the Praise to Mañjuśrī. The animation for the music video was created by Al Donnelley for the short film Finding Manjushri.

 

Harry Einhorn, 

composer of the choral rendition of the Seven Line Supplication to Guru Rinpoche created and performed this meditative interpretation of the Praise to Mañjuśrī. The accompanying artwork was produced by the painter  Emily Avery Yoshiko Crow





This harmonic version of the Praise to Mañjuśrī was created and performed by Alison Wells, who has been producing chantable and melodic versions of prayers for the Siddhartha’s Intent sangha over the past 30 years.


Cy Gorman, a digital media designer and sound artist from Australia and founder of Nurobodi, created this mesmerizing arrangement of the Praise to Mañjuśrī, by combining the Mañjuśrī seed mantra with the metered rhyming couplets:



 

Verse to Music Session # 2

The second Khyentse Vision Project Verse to Music session was held on October 15, 2022. In this session, our special guest Erik Pema Kunsang introduced his translation of A Chariot for Knowledge-Holdersa beautiful prayer by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpoand talked about the importance of putting Dharma prayers to metered verse.


Zack Beer and Christian Bernert hosted the event. Also attending the session were Alison Wells, Benny Oyama, Cy Gorman, Fabio Negroni, and Simon Thomas, who were all invited to create their own musical interpretations of Erik’s metered verse translation. We heard excerpts from their compositions throughout the event. Thanks to Erik Pema Kunsang’s inspiring reflections on the art of translating spiritual inspiration, this session was a particularly insightful meditation on the power of meter and song.







Fabio Negroni, a Brazilian musician and student of Lama Tsering of Chagdud Gonpa, created this lyrical interpretation of A Chariot for Lineage Holders, with original artwork.


Cy Gorman produced this ,oving version of A Chariot for Lineage Holders by with artwork by Alicja Żmigrodzka.







This vocal arrangement of A Chariot for Lineage Holders was composed and performed by Alison Wells. It was designed for group chanting, and has her original artwork.


Simon Thomas, founder of Dharma Kids Collective, wrote and performed this version of the prayer with original artwork:



 

Verse to Music Session # 3

On August 5, 2023, in collaboration with Siddhartha’s Intent Living is Dying, Khyentse Vision Project presented a discussion on life, Dharma, art, and poetry, with special guest Dungse Jampal Norbu and Bardo Café youth ambassadors.

Dungse Jampal Norbu is one of the lead Dharma teachers of Mangala Shri Bhuti. With the foundation of his life-long guidance and education from Kongtrul Rinpoche, Dungse’s anecdotal style and first-hand curiosity about how Buddhism relates to actual experience imbue his teaching approach with a fresh perspective, and reveal his natural wisdom and humor.

This session was based on a poignant poem by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo called the Cuckoo’s Song, which invites the reader to see the profound truths in everyday life. The text was originally translated by Zack Beer .





This melodic interpretation and performance of the Cuckoo’s Song is by Nick Demeris, founder of Human Instruments. It features a guitarist called Mafulaka, and the music video highlights artwork by Alicja Żmigrodzka.


Cy Gorman, created this hypnotic interpretation and performance of the Cuckoo’s Song with his own original digital artwork.






Alison Wells created a moving interpretation and performance of the Cuckoo’s Song,with artwork by Maryann Cremen.

 

 

 


Christian Bernert created and performed a laid-back reggae version of the Cuckoo’s Song, with additional vocals by Lara Longstocking, and artwork by Vacio Cielo.