Archive for the ‘singing bowls’ Category

Old Bowls, New Bowls

October 8, 2016

People always want to know why the old bowls are so expensive. Maybe, because the genuine ones are over a hundred years old?

But why are they “better” than new bowls? My first responses are: their quality of tone and their ability to sustain sound.

New bowls can have excellent tone quality. That said, the majority of new bowls do not. New bowls are not always an 80/20 bell metal composition of copper and tin. While old bowls can have lots of other metals, as many as 14 some say  (so forget that 7-metal standard), those alloys still allow for the resonance and pitch to be rich and full, not flattened by too much lead for example.

The ability of the bowl to vibrate is what creates its voice. And in order to vibrate, the metal has to be supple and flexible. That’s where copper helps out. Alloyed with tin, also a soft metal, the two gain a stronger bond.

Remember, the miraculous singing that a bowl produces is the result of good ole friction. The wood or leather mallet rubs against the metal, and voila, sound! But only if the metal has music-making qualities, not rigidity. Try a stainless steel mixing bowl, for example. Not so good.

Now, onto the part about how an old bowl sustains sound better than a new one. Both the metal composition and the actual construction of the bowl have significance here. With a bell metal composition (Were you taking notes? That’s an 80/20 copper/tin ratio), the flexibility of the metal itself can allow it to sustain a note. Size also makes a difference. Small bowls have less diameter and depth to work with, so the notes are high and relatively short. The bigger the bowl, the longer the sustain.

I would add that generally, I find, the antique hand-forged bowls maintain notes longer. Cast bowls are more rigid, less pliable, which shortens how long a sound can resonate, and most new bowls are cast. Manufacturing them that way is far cheaper. And new bowls that are hand forged are not always better in their sustaining quality of sound. Again, I believe the metal composition in new bowls is not always in the same proportions as in the antique ones.

So, try old bowls and new bowls. See what resonates with you.

 

Remuna Bowls 2