Percussion Instruments

Singing bowls

Singing bowls have a magical aliveness, and they interact in distinct ways with different people and environments when played. Handcrafted by different makers, each bowl has a unique voice. Comprised of the seven metals representing different planetary influences:

Gold = the sun
Silver = the moon
Mercury = Mercury
Copper = Venus
Iron = Mars
Tin = Jupiter
Lead = Saturn

Together these metals produce a profound sound which can penetrate deep within the body and mind creating a subtle healing, also useful as an aid to meditation. The bowl is played by holding it in the flat open palm of one hand, allowing the body of the bowl to vibrate freely, while running a rounded wooden stick around the outside rim of the bowl with the other hand. When the correct combination of pressure, angulation, and velocity is reached, the bowl will sing, much as a drinking glass will vibrate to a certain frequency when you run your finger around the rim. How to Play the Singing Bowl.

The singing bowl is traditionally used as a special offering bowl in a Buddhist altar containing barley, flower or rice, water, and butter with a wick placed in the center to create a butter lamp. Due to its amazing sonorous properties singing bowl has become not just a musical instrument, but rather a practical tool of letting go in the practice of meditation. Here is how it works: Place the bowl in the open palm of one hand (Be sure to let go of the rings) and hold the wooden stick vertically like a pen in the other. Tap the bowl with a stick (you will feel the vibration) and then run a stick around the outside rim with steady pressure and speed A series of calming tones will begin to emerge. If not, try it again and again until you notice that the steady tone comes only when you relax, trying to hard simply sends the bowl to the floor! So enjoy the process, remember you're an adult who is simply playing with a cup and a stick. Those who have mindlessly entertained themselves with running their finger over the rim of champagne glass at a boring banquet and those advanced in the practice of Buddhist meditation have the advantage.

These bowls are made from an amalgam of up to seven metals and are hand turned on a lathe before being hammered to the desired hardness and pitch. They are struck to produce sounds as an aid to meditation. The sound of a Tibetan singing bowl is like a hum - natural, harmonious and deep. The secrets of the bowls are now experimented in the areas of healing, meditation, as well as the purifying of negative impulses.

Singing bowls are often used in meditation, as are mantras such as Om Mani Padme Hum. A rough translation: OM represents the body of all the buddhas, MANI means "jewel" in sanskrit, PADME means "lotus", HUM represents the mind of all buddhas. This singing bowl is approximately 5-1/2" in diameter, colored black with gold designs and the words Om Mani Padme Hum written in Sanskrit inside and around the outside of the bowl.

These bowls are traditionally struck to produce a complex and beautiful sound aiding meditation, or are filled with water, rice or flowers as offerings to the deities. When circled with a playing stick, singing bowls ¨°hum"; in a voice full of wonderful harmonics and overtones. They are made from a mixture of 5-7 metals, hand-turned on a lathe, then hammered to the desired hardness and pitch. Legend has it that as the bowl is made, mantras (prayers) are recited and absorbed into the metals, to be released when the bowl is played.

Zen Singing Bowls
Made by hand by a master craftsman using gold mixed with alloy metals to produce a precise, clear sound that lasts several minutes. To play, place the bowl in the palm of your open hand, and with the other hand hold stick like a pencil and strike the bowl once, then begin rubbing clockwise applying firm even pressure until the bowl begins to ring.




How to Play Singing Bowls
Instruments of Meditation: Catalog | Article on Tibetan Instruments

All of these bowls are handmade in Nepal. They are made from an alloy of seven metals: silver, gold, zinc, copper, antimony, nickel, and iron.

To play, strike with the wooden mallet. A beautiful tone lingers long after being tapped. Rub the outside rim with the mallet, and the bowl comes alive. The soothing sound grows to fill the room.

The Bowl as Percussion Instrument

The pitch of each bowl depends on thickness, size, and weight. It is fixed. However, tone and volume can be controlled by three factors:

the force of the blow
the hardness of the striking object
the point of percussion
Bowls are used in some Hindu orchestras, in combinations of different tones and rhythms. They color the tone beautifully. From quiet to climax, or a single clash at the proper moment.

How to Play Bowls

Hold the bowl in the palm of either hand.
With the mallet, rub the outside rim in a circular motion. Keep an even pressure.
Gently increase the speed as the bowl begins to vibrate, and as the sound grows. It may help to tap the bowl to begin the vibration.
Or enjoy the exotic sound by just tapping the bowl.
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