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A chant (from French chanter, from Latin cantare, "to sing") is the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds, often primarily on one or two main pitches called reciting tones. Chants may range from a simple melody involving a limited set of notes to highly complex musical structures, often including a great deal of repetition of musical subphrases, such as Great Responsories and Offertories of Gregorian chant. Chant may be considered speech, music, or a heightened or stylized form of speech. In the later Middle Ages some religious chant evolved into song (forming one of the roots of later Western music).
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Chant as a spiritual practise
Chanting (e.g., mantra, sacred text, the name of God/Spirit, etc.) is a commonly used spiritual practice. Like prayer, chant may be a component of either personal or group practice. Diverse spiritual traditions consider chant a route to spiritual development.
Some examples include chant in African, Hawaiian, and Native American, and Australian Aboriginal cultures, Gregorian chant, Vedic chant, Qur'an reading, Islamic Dhikr, Baha'i chants, various Buddhist chants, various mantras, Jewish cantillation, and the chanting of psalms and prayers especially in Roman Catholic (see Gregorian chant or Taizé Community), Eastern Orthodox (see Byzantine chant or Znamenny chant, for examples), Lutheran, and Anglican churches (see Anglican Chant).
Chant practices vary. Tibetan Buddhist chant involves throat singing, where multiple pitches are produced by each performer. The concept of chanting mantras is of particular significance in many Hindu traditions and other closely related Dharmic Religions. India's bhakti devotional tradition centres on kirtan, which has a following in many countries and traditions such as Ananda Marga. The Hare Krishna movement is based especially on the chanting of Sanskrit Names of God in the Vaishnava tradition. Japanese Shijin (诗经), or 'chanted poetry', mirrors Zen Buddhist principles and is sung from the Dan tien (or lower abdomen) — the locus of power in Eastern traditions.
Traditional chant in popular culture
Chant is a popular component of many film scores, such as The Lord of the Rings film trilogy by Howard Shore, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace by John Williams, Ghost in the Shell by Kenji Kawai, and Man vs. Godzilla by Akira Ifukube, and video game scores such as the Halo series by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori.
While authentic traditional chant has occasionally figured into modern popular music in brief intros, interludes or atmospheric background usage, one of the earliest notable, fundamental uses of traditional chant in modern pop came from Enigma, who sampled Gregorian chants over trance beats for a successful series of albums and singles. Their 1990 debut single "Sadeness (Part I)" became one of the biggest dance and pop music hits of the year, topping charts around the world, while their song "Return to Innocence" uses a chant in the Taiwanese Aboriginal language Amis.
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