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Showing posts from August, 2016

The Essential Essence of Rhythm & Melody

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I was recently out in California where I had the chance to play with a fantastic sax/woodwind player. He also happens to be a Gong & Singing Bowl collector, so I was able to use his instruments, instead of having to bring anything out there with me (except a bag of mallets). Being in a situation like this really tests you. On one hand, I wasn't able to go to my usual sounds and ideas. But on the other hand, I was free to come up with new sounds and ideas. It was also the first time we had played together, so I was starting from a blank canvas in many ways. 

Now in retrospect, I can look at what I really brought with me, which was years of practicing and performing in many situations, as well as years of searching and experimenting with sounds. The launching point for everything I do musically, is that I was trained as a percussionist. I can't help that because percussion is me, is in my blood, is in my soul. I say this because I realize that a lot of people who play Gongs/B…

6 Thoughts About Your Practice

Someone had asked a question about how do you approach playing the Gongs/Bowls/Bells, especially for others. I came up with these basic thoughts:


Always leave your ego at the door.Listen to your sounds more than anything else. They will always tell you what you need to know.Listen to/feel out the people you play for as they will tell you what they need.Explore your instruments and learn how to make good sounds.Study, read, listen, learn, repeat. It's a lifelong process and you will never know it all, but keep learning and improving.Stay humble.
~ MB

Chop Wood / Carry Water / Play Gongs™

From Here To Eternity: Parallel Paths

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Everything in life is a personal journey, and no 2 person's journeys are the same. We can talk and write about it all we want, but our journey always remains our own, because we see and experience it from the inside, while others only see outward manifestations of our experience. Life is very much like watching a film. We can experience the story the film is telling, but we can't experience being the actors making the film.


Walking the Path
It is much the same with sound. As players, we each have our own, unique journey making the sounds. And as listeners, we each have our own unique experience hearing the sounds. The player cannot have the same experience as the listener. So too, no 2 listeners can have the same experience. We can all have similar experiences, but not the same. 


Don't ever assume that what you are experiencing is the same as others.
This blog is about my journey. You may have similar experiences, you may have completely different experiences—it is my hope tha…

The Art of The Practice

Being one with the sound. Losing yourself in the vibrations. These are noble aspirations, but are they practical and attainable? Yes, you can find a way to merge with the sound. In this blog post, we will look at various steps to deepen your practice of playing Gongs/Bowls/Bells, whether for yourself, or for others.

Breathing

It all starts with the breath. While breathing is perfectly natural, when we are often trying to do something, it becomes unnatural. I have found that many times when a student is trying to accomplish something new or difficult, the first thing they do is hold their breath, or at least alter their breathing pattern. The minute you hold your breath, you introduce tension into your body. The longer you hold your breath, the more the tension builds up, until you finally have to quickly suck in another breath, and then the whole process starts over.

Before you start your practice, relax and take a deep breath. Let it out fully and then take another. As you let each brea…

The Zazen of Sound

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zazen /zʌzɛn/ 
noun
1.
(inZenBuddhism)deepmeditationundertakenwhilstsittingupright withlegscrossed

After writing assorted blog posts about the Zen of sound, various people have asked me about how they can get deeper into the sound, deeper into their own playing. So I've decided to offer some suggestions that have worked for me, but realize that each of us is different, so you will most surely find your own way.

Say Hello To The Sound
Turn off your phone/computer/electric distractions.Make sure the kids, pets, other family members cannot disturb you.Make sure you are comfortable sitting or standing in front of your instrument/s. Because of my set up, I always stand.For a Gong, strike it gently in the center, getting a full, focused tone. For a Bowl or Bell, strike it gently on the side/edge to get a clear, yet pleasing sound. This exercise is not about loudness.Listen to the sound as it fades away.Be patient and let the sound fade completely away.When you feel you have waited long enough,…