Tibetan Singing Bowls have been used for many different purposes. They have been used for music making, relaxation, and overall personal well-being. They have become popular in healing with music therapist and meditation practitioners as well.
The unique style of singing bowls became popular in the 1970's and a new genre of music was called Tibetan Music. It has been marketed as World music or New-age music since the 1980’s.
Many singing bowls are constructed from an alloy of copper and tin. They come in various sizes and can be used as a single or a group. The group is often seven and each one is affiliated with a heavenly body.
The most popular way of manufacturing a singing bowl is by casting the molten metal followed by hammering by hand, into the desired shape. They are also now shaped by machine-lathing. When the bowls are complete they are often decorated with an inscription or decorative motifs.
Listening to the music of singing bowls for many is relaxing and calming. However, others may find a unique centering effect when creating the music themselves. The tones create a synchronizing balance between the left and right brain.
There are several techniques for playing a singing bowl. The first and most common technique is called, “Around the Rim”. In this technique, hold the bowl with the palm of your left hand. Smaller bowls may be held by the fingertips. Then grasp the mallet midway with the fingertips pointed downward, touching the wood. Palm should be facing down also. If using a padded mallet, the wool should be on top. Now, gently tap the mallet against the side of the bowl. This is considered “warming up” the bowl. With an even amount of pressure, rub the mallet clockwise around the outside edge of the rim of the bowl. Use a full arm movement as if you are stirring a pot of stew. Make sure to keep the mallet straight up and down. It’s a full arm movement, not a wrist movement. Applying pressure causes the friction against the outer rim. This pressure is what produces the vibration which in turn, produces the sound.
There is also an advanced technique you may try after you have mastered the beginning technique. This technique is called the Wah-Wah. Most singing bowls have a natural wah-wah sound. This technique helps you to bend and amplify this sound.
First, get the bowl singing by using the around the rim technique. Then, put the mallet away and allow the bowl to continue to sing. Now, while you are still holding the bowl in your hand, raise the bowl up to your mouth so that the outside rim is just above the opening of your mouth but an inch away. While thinking of the wah-wah sound, open and close your mouth. Do not make an actual sound, just change the shape of your oral cavity. This allows the sound of the singing bowl to bounce around the inside of your mouth and reflects it back. By turning the bowl you will find where the bowl is naturally louder, known as “hot spots.”
There is a great place that can help you find the right Tibetan Singing Bowl for you. It is at Navadurga Handicrafts & Singing Bowl House, Inc.
Navadurga Handicrafts & Singing Bowl House, Inc. is located in Alameda, CA.