Subtle Shades of Sound

So, after the sort of speed bump distraction of the past week, let's get back to the Heart of things…

If you work with Singing Bowls and/or Gongs, I highly suggest that you buy and read Frank Perry's wonderful book, Himalayan Sound Revelations. While it's about mainly Singing Bowls, there is much that can also be applied to Gongs. I'm only half way through it, and it's already made a big impact on my approach to Sound and my instruments.




Inspired by Frank's research into the tunings and harmonics of his Singing Bowls, I downloaded a couple of  different chromatic tuner apps on my iPhone. I have now been going through my collection of Gongs, Bells, Bowls, and Sound Plates finding out their various pitches and harmonics. This has become a rather involved process, where I am taking readings on each instrument with multiple mallets, with each one bringing out different tones. There are some subtle differences in harmonics when using different mallets. It's also a challenge to get certain tunings, as some of these instruments oscillate between 2 tones.


This has become a fascinating endeavor. It's interesting to see if, and how, the tunings match up with my intuitive feelings about the instruments. I've already gained a deeper understanding of things.

Another part of this is really listening to my instruments, listening for what they are speaking to me and identifying the messages. Frank goes into great detail about a number of his bowls and what they mean to him. While Frank's experience is his own very personal one, I feel we can all have a relationship with, and understanding of, our instruments.  I've always believed that there is a Sacred and Spiritual aspect to these instruments. Part of this is the Spirit of the makers, as these instruments are hand made with both fire and sweat, hammered into both form and sound. The other part is the lineage of older instruments—all the hands they have gone through, all the musical and spiritual situations they have been connected to. These vibrations/information are never lost and become a part of the crystalline memory of the metal.


Obviously we each have our own experience, and within that, our own depth of the experience. There is no right or wrong, only what works for each of us. 

What are your experiences?

~ MB

Chop Wood | Carry Water | Play Gongs    

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