Shômyô - Japanese Buddhist chant

Junko Ueda

Asia | Workshops

Shômyô is characterised by its ample range, its slow breathing technique and its melodic melismatic motifs, where time is conceived as a cyclical sonorous space. Shômyô means ‘the voice of wisdom’.

This workshop introduces the Japanese Buddhist chant Shomyo, which is originated from the 9th century. Under the guidance of Junko Ueda, the participants will practice how to sing some repertoires of shomyo chant. Beside working on the musical aspects, a holistic approach is taken towards our universal human sense and spirit. We touch the subject about the essences of Japanese culture: those are Hara (the energy centre of the body) and Ma (space and timing). Also, some breathing exercises and body exercise (Qi-gong) are introduced and naturally integrated in the workshop. Anyone can join this workshop as no musical knowledge is required.

The aims of the workshop are :
  • To enjoy the group singing. Shomyo chant embraces differences of each one’s voice qualities.
  • To experience the 1200-year-old Japanese ancient music and to explore its concept.
  • To train consciousness and control of the breathing.
  • To learn about the energy centre of the body called ‘Hara’ (Seika-Tanden) and to release the stress-level.
  • To develop vocalization and body control (certainly useful for wind instrument players and vocalists).



Born in Tokyo, Japan, Junko Ueda is a Japanese singer and interpreter of satsuma-biwa (Japanese lute). She interprets the traditional Japanese repertoire with the biwa (great epics) and practices the shômyo (Japanese Buddhist song). Junko Ueda studied satsuma-biwa with the famous Kinshi Tsuruta and studied shômyô since 1983 with Kôshin Ebihara (monk of the Tendai-shu sect). She also studied composition (with Reiko Arima, Jôji Yuasa, Sei Ikeno) at the Tokyo College of Music.

Junko Ueda is a resident of Europe and has performed throughout the world (concerts and workshops) and also collaborates on musical projects, with the flautist Wil Offermans, the cellist Yo-yo Ma, the Dutch Nieuw Ensemble, or the composers Jean-Claude Eloy, Keiko Harada, Akemi Naitô and Daryl Jamieson. His traditional biwa CDs 'The Heike Epic' (CD650 AIMP / VDE Geneva, recorded at the Hiei-zan Mountain Monastery in Japan) and 'Satsuma Biwa' (ARN64577 Ethnomad / ARION, Geneva / Paris) were rewarded by numerous awards, including the Grand Prix du Disque of the Academy Charles Cros in Paris and Choc Le Monde de la Musique, Paris. She also recorded a CD of Shomyo solo 'Meditative Flowers' (CD-E141 E-records, Granada).

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