View Full Version : Back Ground Music or acompanyment?

03-11-2005, 09:41 PM
When practicing Tai Chi with music, many do not follow the music.
This has been bothering me for sometime.
Once you start performing a set, you should not vary the tempo, therefore following the music is important.  
I run across the good one the other day…..Group of people were practicing Tai Chi with the Hymn “Amazing Grace”. It was done with Chinese instruments and slower tempo than the original, but still ¾.
To my surprise, they did a good job and it seems that they ignored the music completely.


03-12-2005, 01:27 AM
I try to use music that is Tai Chi tempo, that flows easily. I very rarley use music of varying tempo as ilike my Tai Chi to flow. Pachenbels Canon is perfect for me. It is a piece I enjoy and the tempo is the same throughout. It is a persoanl thing aand different things work for different people. There is another thread on Music for Tai Chi. have a look at that for further suggestions.

03-12-2005, 10:21 PM
the bottom line is you do not need music to practice t'ai chi,the great wu style teacher sophia delza was in fact very much against practicing the form to music and soundly criticized grandmaster Tsung Tsai Liang for using music in his classes.Liang was rather insistant that his students adhere to a rythmic musical format believing that it would broaden their understanding; however T'ai chi has it's own internal rythmes and most serious practitioners feel(quite correctly) that it should be practiced in silence in order to experience them;having said that,there are times when i personally feel practicing to music can be enjoyable and mood enhancing;but it is certainly NOT a requirement and strictly a matter of personal taste.(new agers take heed).
take this with however many grains of salt you wish but my very personal taste runs toward music that does not necessarily have a very defineable rythme

03-12-2005, 10:32 PM
Thank you.

03-12-2005, 11:46 PM
I find that trying to keep to the tempo of music stressful and distracting.

03-13-2005, 02:19 AM
Any one who finds trying to keep to the tempo of the music stressfull should try it without the music. If you want some back ground sounds try something natural like birdsong or running water. On days when the traffic is busy here ( I live on a main road) the birdsong is a great help. It is a more natural rythm than music, and I don't try to keep in time with it.

03-13-2005, 06:20 PM
Yes, I am very musically inclined but prefer practice in silence. Tai CHi does have its own music, GM Chenxiaowang uses "beats", it means he counts 4 counts in a circle which comes from the 4 directions peng, lu ji an, with the an component very often absent within a circle. But.... his son said that you can count if you wish, but you don't need to when the rhythm is already inside you.

In class I use it to motivate the lazy students, who found more pleasure and told me music helped them to focus better.

BTW, although not Chinese, I found didgeridoo music to be very suitable and puts your mind in a certain state.

Myself enjoys practicing in the quiet Manly Lagoon area with the natural birdsong and you can still hear the sounds of the Pacific Ocean. The beach itself is full of yubbos smoking, swearing etc....etc.......

03-13-2005, 10:59 PM
This was a comment made by Dr.Lam

the composer spend numerous hours watching me performing tai chi, then numerous hours to compose, then come with her musicians to perform the music in my house while i practice with the music. we did this several times to perfect the rhythm and feel of the music. it was quite costly in terms of time and money... i dont think i could do any better. please note that there are two other CDs produced by New World Music with my photo on the cover but NOT my music...
I have played my CD numerous times during practice and performance... it still holds the ideal spirit and rhythm that no other tai chi music ever did to me or many of my tai chi friends.

Every time I watch Dr. Lam’s video, I am fascinated by how accurate the rhythms how well harmonized they are with music while many recording pros
Are not.

03-14-2005, 02:57 AM
I've been thinking about all the comments about the music and I wonder if there are alternative ways of looking at the use of music. I specifically picked up on sharks comment about mood enhancement.

I do a lot qigong with my classes so we do lots of repititions and it can be useful to do different qigong routines to different tempos, there is one buddhist piece I use that is a bit like moving trough treacle - it slows everyone down and is very good if they are tense and flurried when they arrive.

I also find that my olders learners like music - because it is soothing.

And I thought about the effects that music - vibrational frequencies would have on the human bio-energy field - and I also remembered that sound therapy is used to help manage depression and anger and cure / treat some physical ailments.

And I also recalled Lao Tse said something about the man is the song - and the greeks thought that music healed the soul, and that chakras are related to specific notes .

On the grounds that no tai chi teacher is ever going to use heavy metal, Wagner of something really jerky - perhaps we are inadvertantly providing music which helps make people feel better and so enhances the tai chi experience .

So - Maybe it is just another level of experience and it is not the presence or absence of music that is the issue - perhaps it is which music should we choose.

On the subject of Chinese masters not being in favour of music - perhaps that is from the more formal or martial arts culture? Or manybe the man didn't like music!.

Just a thought

PS Pacabel's Canon and the Goldberg variations are scored for relaxation and soothing and are often quoted as examples for students who want to enhance memory performance.

Marc Heyvaert
03-14-2005, 05:48 AM

I use music in my lessons but not in all of them.

Music is ok in classes for beginners and when we do some internal work, qigong, breathing exercises, silk reeling, etc. In the second part of the lesson, when it becomes technical, concentrating on the form, I switch the music of. At the end of the lesson, when we go through an entire form, I normally put the music back on again.

Classes for advanced students are 80% without music, only when we go throug an entire form I will put on some music.

All of the above applies to indoor classes. No need for music when you are in a beautiful park :)

As to why? Music can help you focus the mind. I provides a mental support that prevents your mind from drifting away. So it helps to induce a state of concentration and relaxation at the same time. I can also enhance you positive feelings and it takes away some of the ugliness of the indoors training facilities that we have to use....

I have a small collection of CD's that I use for my lessons. Most of the music is by (often only produced by) Oliver Shanti (alias Klaus Schulz). It is very new-agish though, not my cup of tea really, but very functional and people seem to like it. Unfortunately the guy is wanted by the police and his company (sattva music) has collapsed, so the CD are no longer for sale. I have some clips on my website though:



03-14-2005, 08:05 AM
Paul's TCC music is very organic and if I try to flow with it, it enhances practice. Most music seems like muzak when I am into practice anyway, easily ignored. Once ina while I feel like my qi is rowdier or something, and will do forms to the Stones or Clapton. Has anyone else noticed that "Street Fighting Man" kind of goes with the 32-Sword Form?

Richard Livingston, MD

03-14-2005, 05:25 PM
Most Tai Chi videos by Dr. Lam like 24 ,Chen 36,56 or 42 fist and sword forms are not accompanied by Jenny Li's composition. I think only Sun 73, TCD and TCA is accompanied by her music. I have changed my mind about Jenny's music, in the beginning I hated it and I still don't use it for my practice. But my students seem to be enhanced by his music.

Maybe it is because my rhythm is different from Paul's. He opened many doors for me but as I passed it I realized that my world behind this door is different from his. A teacher can't give you his gong fu, but he can lead and show you how to develop your own gongfu.

I also noticed, despite my admiration for Chenxiaowang and his son Yingjun, my rhythm is different from theirs but they encourage me to play my own as long as I adhere to the principles. Anyhow I still stick to the" music" of the Pacific Ocean and natural birdsong, the place where I practice everyday. When I'm in a different place, I just practice with the memory of it

Dahlis Roy
03-14-2005, 08:58 PM
Hi Everyone,

A Taiji friend shared this thought, "When one teaches, two learn."
I love this thread! I have learned so much from the answers.

Agree, at home I am prefering silence more often. For ocean sounds and a few seagull calls without annoying background chanting or vocals try Relax With Ocean Surf CD.

In Fit Smart, USA Weekend Newspaper Supplement, p. 4 Jorge Cruise writes, "Music + Movement = Better Brainpower." An Ohio State study suggests that verbal ability improved only when music accompanied exercise. Emotions and verbal fluencey were tested before and after exercise.

VARIETY: When I changed locations, I practiced 88 pattern with form practice music every day to feel connected to friends I missed. I was not yet teaching in my new home. Then I tried silent practice! I had erased part of the form and the music had become a 'crutch' telling me what to do! So, then I went to a variety of music, silence, and 88 pattern music to steer my autopilot focus back on course.

Chinese Health Music is said to work with different fequencies or tones that may help to energize organs. I have some samples that can be used for headache, induce sleep etc. The headache music worked for me! It sounds like a dirge, but for some reason it worked when I got eyestrain from computers.

My teacher prefers music for practice because of the tonifying effect on the body while Taiji is practiced. Once guests from China came to class and shared their 88 pattern music with verbal directions inserted in Chinese like peng, lu, ji, an etc.

DLIP: Your Rolling Stone experience reminds me of practicing at home to "Slippin' Away," and "Simon and Garfunkle's "Homeward Bound" among others.

I used to practice Long Form (in 11 min. for fun at home) to Dvorak's New World Symphony's Largo.

All of these are enjoyable, and yes, my students love the 88 pattern music but agree, it can be an extra stretch for teacher to coordinate all the time with music. Today, I just relaxed in class with Dr. Lam's music.


03-20-2005, 07:13 AM
Anything by Kenji Kawai (he composed the musical score for the animated Ghost in the Shell movies) works fine with me. It is slow, got a rhytmic beat and is very, very powerful. In terms of classical Chinese music I prefer the kucheng, which strangely enough works well with Sun-style. :)

But best of all - the music of nature when practicing outdoors *insert honking cars*.

04-06-2005, 08:25 PM
I have just recently registered as a member, and have completed my first workshop with Dr Lam in Wellington NZ.
I am a music teacher/composer/performer and producer. I find the music for Tai chi not nessecary to perform Tai chi but rather as a complement to the atmosphere & esoteric qualities of Tai chi.
The Music provides a soundscape so you are not moving in a 'cold space'.
It is personal preference i think when it comes to the music.
The rythym and time is essential to the way in which we are moving.
Finally music is everywhere and can be in the sounds of nature i.e. water, the wind, ...
To conclude you hear music all the time, it is your attitude & reation to the environment you are in. We can change that to whatever we desire.
Enjoy PK