KCS – Explanatory Words on the Project

Kharnatsang Collection of Skad (KCS) – “skad” to be pronounced – is an audio collection of selected melodic patterns, the so called (tib. སྐད། – Wyl. skad) from the Menri lineage of the Tibetan tradition of Yungdrung Bön.

The core of each ké is a repeating melodic pattern that is mostly applied to different ritual texts. Which texts a particular can be applied to is summarized in certain books called ké-chi-je-ta (tib. སྐད་ཀྱི་བྱེ་བྲག – Wyl. skad kyi bye brag), meaning the “collections of .” These collections present lists of texts requiring the same .

Under the point “Mentions in the skad kyi bye brag (tib. སྐད་ཀྱི་བྱེ་བྲག)” in our collection, we quote those lists from two ké-chi-je-ta: the one written by Gyaltsab Yunggyan, the other by Tsultrim Gyaltsen. For the latter, we used the latest edition published by the Bön Monastery Triten Norbutse in Kathmandu.

A copy of the first can be found via the following link:

–> view pdf of handwritten copy of Gyalchab Yungyan’s skad kyi bye brag

Gyaltsab Yunggyan’s collection became our main reference. Due to this, the KCS follows Gyaltsab Yunggyan’s order of presenting the lists, while Tsultrim Gyltsen’s version is taken as an alternative source. As a consequence, there may be listed in Tsultrim Gyaltsen’s original collection that are not included in the collection presented here.
Anyone who notices that we have overlooked a from Tsultrim Gyaltsen is welcome to contact one of us (address below) so that we can hopefully add the respective later.

As mentioned above, each basically consists of a repeating melodic pattern. However, a might have an initial and a final chant associated with it, as well. If so, the repeating pattern is often called tsik-shé (tib. ཚིག་བཤེད། – Wyl. tshig shed), meaning “recitation” or speech chant. The recitation part of a often consists of two sections that can be differentiated by their tempo: a slow recitation part called deb-ring (Tib. འདེབས་རིང་། – ‚debs ring), followed by a fast recitation part called deb-tung (tib. འདེབས་ཐུང་། – Wyl. ‚debs thung). However, sometimes differences regarding pitch or rhythm can occur, too.

The possible parts of a in their order:

an initial chant: མགོ་གྱེར། | gogyer
a slow recitation part: འདེབས་རིང་། | debring
a fast recitation part: འདེབས་ཐུང་། | debtung
a final chant: མཇུག་གྱེར། | jugyer

The KCS audio collection presents one, sometimes two examples of the application of a particular to a ritual text. It mainly presents the bare melodic pattern of the example text(s) with their initial and final chants (if there are any). Additionally, it gives the initial words for each text, so whoever has the text at hand can follow Kharnatsang’s performance. Likewise, those who have the texts listed in the ké-chi-je-ta should be able to apply a given ké to all other texts in its list, too.

The ké presented in the KCS are applied to various ritual genres. One of them is the ritual class of kang-wha (Tib. བསྐང་བ། – bskang ba), tantric practices meant to strengthen the bond between the deities and protectors of Bön and the followers of the Bön religion.

The selection of kang-wha performed at the different Bön-monasteries might vary. In addition to the Kharnatsang Collection of Skad (KCS) we present the “Menri kang-bum,” a collection of kang-wha with their manuscripts and ké as they are usually performed at Menri Monastery. Once a year all of these kang-wha are performed by a selected group of monks in an all-night ceremony, the kang-bum (tib. བསྐང་འབུམ – bskang ‚bum), at the Protector Temple of Menri Monastery. Hence the name of the collection.
We linked the audio recordings of the most important kang-wha to the KCS. In most cases we added the original Tibetan mansucript of the ritual text as a PDF and marked the places in the text where a particular ké has to be applied.

The list of indexed Menri bskang ba [PTindex] with links to the connected content of the individual kang-wha is found here:

–> Menri kang bum


Our KCS audio collection of was produced from October 2019 to September 2020 at Menri Monastery, Dolanji, India by Geshé and umdze Dawa Namgyal Kharnatsang, and Christiane Strothmann, composer, ethnomusicologist, as part of the ethnomusicological dissertation project „Learning from a Monastic Musician: Masters of Chant and the Function of Ritual Music in the Tibetan Yungdrung Bön Tradition“ (Folkwang Univsersity of the Arts, Essen, Germany, Prof. Dr. Andreas Meyer). It was supported with a yearlong grant by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). The project on the Menri kang-bum was additionally supported by VERYBön e.V. (Society for the Research on the Ritual Music of Yungdrung Bön – German only).

A big thanks to all supporters and helpers of this project, most especially to His Holiness the 34th Menri Trizin Lungtok Dawa Dargyal Rinpoche for his generous and limitless support of our collaboration.
Special thanks to Ricardo Canzio, who through his decades-long pioneering work on the ritual music of the Bönpos and through his help and friendship inspired this project.


For all questions or suggestions please feel free to contact:

Menri Geshé and tsok-chen umdze Dawa Namgyal Kharnatsang (Tibetan or English): dawanamgyal77@gmail.com


Dr. des. Christiane Strothmann (German or English):