Sound Mandalas

Sound mandalas, like visual ones, are wheels of sound. One note placed beside another begins to make a complex pattern as more are added and then repeated around the wheel.

Since I began playing the bowls, little musical sequences of say 3 or 7 bowls emerged. The first ones were 2 or 3 bowls, blending sometimes to a chord, sometimes maintaining their own identity or creating a harmony. I remember when 5 bowls joined together to create a melody. I would gong or rim this combination or play both ways. This particular mandala remains a favorite of mine. Later, by adding a 6th bowl and playing the order backwards, I found a whole new pattern.

At some point I worked with 5 bowls, playing both forward and backward, pivoting on the same 3rd bowl. That particular mandala seems to open a portal for people.

Then came my playing a set pattern, followed by “random” notes, resolving to another set pattern. This mandala is one of the more complex ones so far. The colors of the bowls as well as the notes are gorgeous in this one.

In the last two months, a new mandala requires that a pair of bowls be gonged simulataneously and then another pair and another. The mandala begins with playing the rims of two gem crystal bowls (a rose quartz clear and a rose quartz opaque) and an old metal Himalayan bowl. Before this mandala, the gem crystal and metal bowls played separately. The Himalayan bowl leaves at some point, and a deep carnelian bowl joins the trio. Then a shift occurs to a sweet pattern of gonging the two rose quartz bowls and three additional bowls. After all this, I begin to gong a pair of bowls, then another pair, etc. The sound resembles the Bali gamelan. To me, an effervescence occurs.

Within the last two weeks I have started playing 5 gem crystal bowls as though they were a percussion section. Two gongs on a bowl here, then one gong, then one again, then two or three. The Himalayan bowls have often served in this way, but these 5 gem bowls are insisting on this.

I do sit with the bowls, and, together, we create these mandalas. When something arises that speaks to me, I try to write down the pattern. Sometimes the mandala changes as I work with it. Eventually tho, a particular set of notes and rhythms will evolve, and I memorize it with my body as well as my eyes and ears. I repeat it over and over until it comes naturally to me. Then, in concerts, when I’m in my semi-trance state playing and come to one bowl which directs me to another, the mandala releases in a beautiful pattern for you.

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