Posts Tagged ‘complementary medicine’

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

April 8, 2010

As I come around to being in this adventure with the singing bowls for almost a year, I have started the process of writing a book. Well, I started the writing process last year. Now, I’m in the process of producing the book.

I’ve learned about Book Proposals and how non-fiction books are devveloped and sold. I’m working with a published author in this process, June Cotner, and using Michael Larsen’s book How to Write a Book Proposal. Since I’ve written for a living for 30 years, I don’t expect the Muse to jump on my shoulder. Writing is mostly about writing. Putting words on paper or electronic screens, zapping ’em out, trying others, letting them roll around on the tongue and seeing whether they’re worthy of the taste. This venture though has offered me some of the most fun writing. I’ve been taking some risks, trying new things out. (I didn’t get to write much dialog, except for video scripts in most of my business stints.) I’m mixing poetic lines in and portraying actions, “blocking” the characters (who is often me) with gesture and movement.

Playing the bowls hasn’t been like that at all. I just sit and listen and play. Well, that happens with writing too, but there are no re-writes with the bowls, except when I’m recording.

Playing the bowls is magic. In Cincinnati this past weekend, we had a bunch of bowls to experiment with and we did. Sounds that shouldn’t have sounded right together did, and harmonics that should have worked didn’t. These bowls are truly alchemical. The gems and metals that are incorporated in them as well as their notes have amazingly multi-dimensional influences.

I say to people these are soooo different than the quartz bowls, and until you hear them you may not believe me. Once you do though, it’s another story. And their sounds and combinations are like the sounds when I hear the bell tones. Nowadays though, I seem to get more of the atmospheric cloud of sound and the high-altitude foggy right ear. Funniest thing. I know it means “Pay attention. Listen.” but I wish they would come up with something more pleasant than feeling like I’ve just gone up 77 stories in an elevator and my right ear hasn’t popped yet. Well, it does make me pay attention.

So that’s what’s happening in my world. April is a month of private engagements, rather than public ones. Seems to be a time of deepening for us all.

March 18, 2010

Sometimes I get a bit stunned by what has happened over the last nine months. A year ago, nobody could have told me I’d be playing singing bowls for a living. I would have said they were insane. Maybe I’m the crazy one. And I couldn’t be happier.

This time last year, I owned one Crystal Tone bowl — the lovely Grandmother in F#, all 7 petite inches of her. Sweet, sweet, sweet. I had four Tibetan bowls. I now have 12 Crystal Tone bowls, and over 20 Tibetans in all shapes and sizes (including the elusive Lotus, 7 rare stem bowls, the singular Mani, and a Bodhi).

When I met the gem crystal bowls by Crystal Tones, I finally found something that replicated the bell-like tones I heard from the Universe. I discern that it is because the gem crystal bowls, combine quartz with a gemstone such as ruby, emerald or diamond or a metal such as indium or iron, to produce the multi-dimensional harmonics that quartz bowls cannot. In the same way that the combination of various metals in the Tibetan bowls each produce both a single pitch and blend with the others for new harmonics, so do these gem crystal bowls.

Of course, once I met these bowls, the sounds changed again. They became like a cloud or aura around me that I could sense. It’s led me to believe that we are more like dolphins and bats than we recognize.

I also hear chords now, which are gorgeous. And just the other day, I received a single note that appeared as a 3-inch vertical line of gold about 8 inches from my head.

In addition to how the sounds that I hear are different than they were, so too the bowls are changing in their sounds. They become more profound with each playing. I am also grateful to my audiences whose numbers are growing. 60 people came to the Beachwood library two weeks ago. This past Sunday, I was the main “speaker” at a Unity service where 92 people attended, some from my invitation — “a full house” the minister told me.

In addition, I have had a Book Concept Analysis completed by June Cotner, who has encouraged me to move forward with the project. (I can highly recommend her services.) So I am putting together a formal Book Proposal on how I came to play the singing bowls and the sounds I have heard all my life.

Nine months. That’s all it’s been. Nine months of starting from a seed to all this blossoming. And here it is Spring!

Hello world!

February 17, 2010

I started actively exploring sound 10 years ago, because I have heard musical sounds all my life with no identifiable external source. The first sounds were a high pitch “ee” sound, very linear in nature.  I wanted to create a relationship with these sounds, so I began to listen more and look for ways to communicate with them. As a result, the sounds have changed over time, in shape, size and even musical range. This journey has also led me to ancient Tibetan singing bowls, gem crystal alchemy bowls and tuning forks. The harmonics created by these bowls are extremely relaxing and certainly relieve the stress of everyday life. So I have been taking these harmonies out into the world and playing for people in nursing homes, spiritual retreat centers, yoga studios, hospice, public libraries, etc.

Feb 23

As I re-read Hazrat Inayat Khan’s work, I am impressed with so much of his expression about how utterly central music is to our lives. In Chapter 3, he writes, “Music as we know in our everyday language is only a miniature: that which our intelligence has grasped from that music or harmony of the whole universe which is working behind us. The music of the universe is the background of the little picture we call music. ”

He could have ended the paragraph there, but he extends this. He says, “Our sense of music, our attraction to music, shows that music is in the depth of our being. Music is behind the working of the whole universe. Music is not only life’s greatest object, but music is life itself.” 

In addition to Hazrat Inayat Khan’s book, I have been reading Russill Paul’s The Yoga of Sound. His book is a wonderful in-depth study of sound and practices that I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to explore sound. As his subtitle states: “Tapping the Hidden Power of Music and Chant.”

Feb 17

I was very fortunate that Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882 – 1927) is in my direct Sufi lineage. Inayat Khan was a famous musician in India and was directed by his teacher to take Sufism’s message of “love, harmony and beauty” to the West in 1910. He even came to Cleveland, OH in his travels. His grandson Pir Zia Inayat Khan is now part of my lineage. Hazrat Inayat Khan (Hazrat is an honorific title I use for this master) wrote a book I note on my web site called The Mysticism of Sound and Music. Here are a few passages to offer some of the wonderful wisdom available in that book.

Chapter 1 offers: “The beauty of music is that it is the source of creation and the means of absorbing it. ”

Later: “The true use of music is to become musical in one’s thoughts, words and actions. One should be able to give the harmony for which the soul yearns and longs every moment. All the tragedy in the world, in the individual, and in the multitude, comes from lack of harmony, and harmony is best given by producing it in one’s own life.” 

I am grateful that Hazrat Inayat Khan talks of how we can manifest harmony in our lives. Whether we are trained in music or not, music’s importance lies in its beauty and harmony and what these qualities offer. He speaks later in the book about how carefully we must use our voice and language and even our thoughts to truly be harmonious. The influence of vibration is profound.

Chapter 2 begins: “According to the esoteric standpoint, music is the beginning and end of the universe. All actions and movements made in the visible and invisible world are musical. That is: they are made up of vibrations pertaining to a certain plane of existence.”

I don’t know that any comments I make do justice to this writing. He explores the esoteric aspects of this statement, and I will continue to provide some of these passages as thoughts to consider.

I started on these notes today, because I had opened the book to Chapter 17 – The Effect of Sound on the Physical Body and the statement: “Sound becomes visible in the form of radiance.”  Since I’ve been working with this sense of sonic aura, that statement leapt off the page. I do not see auras, but radiance is a form of energy we know from all living beings. I can feel the vibrant glow of living beings, even stones and crystals. Recently, I’ve been trying to tune into the feeling/vibration my arms, palms and dan tien achieve in certain Tai Chi/Qi Gong moves.  I have no doubt about feeling the chi, and the only way I can be doing so is through vibration. I am in awe that we live in a time when so many of us can link between the mastery of Tai Chi and Sufism for greater awareness.

Feb. 10

So, here’s a story. I’m playing at a hospice yesterday as a sort of interview, not long, a few minutes maybe. And this workman comes over to see what is making these sounds. He’s absolutely mesmerized. Then he tells me about how his brother would love this, his brother in a wheelchair and how he loves music. And I think all the stories we could never guess that people are traveling around with, right under their skin. We would treat people so much richer if we had even an inkling or could regard them in this way without the inkling.

My other observation is how my Tibetans love to play with the gem crystal bowls now. They pour their voices into them, literally like water and wait for it to rise out of the crystal bowl in a whole new way. And I am most enjoying the 5 stem bowls that love to play together. All sorts of combinations, and when I begin with them, they just want to go on and their resonance rises. They are making room for the 6th and the beautiful mending 7th. Ahhhh, the mending one. If you could see him, you would know why I love him so. Old, old, old and the work of an old monk or artisan. Thinner walled than the others I have and the shape elegant. Finely tapped all around the inside of the rim, and sanded clean, only to be mixed over the years by corrosion and patinas of all sorts. A small void occurs at the base where solder should have melded the joining, so now it rings sometimes when it should only hum. But each time I look or hold him, I couldn’t be happier or graced with a better bowl. I could describe each of my bowls in a similar way. They are such a relationship. The bowls have voices beyond the ones we hear.

Feb. 5

So for the past week since I posited this idea of the sonic body, which I doubt by the way is new, I have been listening and sensing.  Here’s what I’ve discovered so far. I seem to sense sound from my abdominal area — the dan tien, hara, around the solar plexus, but a bit below and above the navel. I am noticing a sense of pulse there, which is my pulse, but seems to radiate out from my body much stronger than I’ve noticed in the past. I’ll note here that I’ve been doing Tai Chi for the past 6-7 years and Qi Gong before that, so I have been aware of my dan tien for a while, but this sense of sound there as well as chi or perhaps as chi, is an interesting exploration. Of course the martial arts have worked with the power of sound for years. I may not be saying anything new here, but inviting you to explore this avenue. Since I initially had sounds come through my head, I thought I might find the transmitter or receiver there, and it may well be there. What this abdominal signal sense is telling me is that there may be more than one portal and this may simply be my strongest. In the same way some of our chakras have stronger senses than others, perhaps I am just experiencing sound the same way.  

Feb. 1

A great deal has been written about “light” in the metaphysical world and its connection with energy and its ability to inform us. Much valid information exists for that medium. Here, I would like to begin discussing the importance of sound in the arena of energy.  Many of us have read some of the writings of sound healers. Some of us have worked with chanting or toning or playing tuning forks or singing bowls. When we work with sound, we feel sound. We feel its physical manifestation, its incarnation into our world of being. To me this denotes a form of consciousness and a different experience from seeing light or image. Some people also feel light (warmth or presence), but often light is about seeing. So let’s go a step further and start considering that just as we have an auric body usually seen as light and colors that same body might be experienced as sound. What if we started focusing attention on the sonic body, and started to try to feel sound or use our own sonar the way dolphins and whales do?  I’ll leave you with that question and jump in with questions or comments if you like.

January 5, 2010

Jan. 24

I have decided to change content on this blog and provide articles on my thoughts about certain subjects, e.g. resonance, sonar, the possibility of a sonic aura, etc.  I intend to present the first article soon, and wanted to explain my absence from these pages. If you have topics you would like me to cover or if you have enjoyed the current format please let me know.  Thank you.

Jan. 9

I sit for a long time and just play one bowl. It is deep and melodic. I listen for the layers of sound. One bowl is all you need. However, when combined with other bowls, the layers and combinations meld, so you don’t know where they’re coming from or where they will emerge to.  

Jan. 7

More stem bowls arrive, with two for sale. These are amazing with their sound. C, F, A – a melodic combination.  

Jan. 6 Epiphany

What’s important to me in this journey may not be important to you. I often try to make sense of the differences between people, yet I return to the sense of connection.  Epiphany, a time of great insights. This is the day in the Church calendar when the Magi found the Christ child and honored him. After this Jesus is no longer anonymous and change is imminent as the family flees to Egypt to save the child’s life. Dreams, astrologers, irate kings — great story. I am sorting through what and how to develop things this year. Another CD to plan, work in hospitals, teaching, more work with resonance.  

Jan. 5

Need to go play the bowls.

Jan. 4

I arrive home in a snowstorm. Not too surprising for Cleveland at this time of year. The bowls are glad to be home. 

Jan. 3

We had a drumming circle last night and I played one of the bowls, a nice deep one (Androgynous Indium, G#). Gene plays his Kyanite/Citrine/Indium B bowl and they make a nice complement. I am introduced to Song Pods, hand-held metal shells that you rotate to make beautiful chime sounds. You can find them at . Today, I played for our other host and did the session with my friend Barb, who put stones all around this woman and on her, etc.  The woman had made an intention as we began the session as I usually suggest, and it came in strongly, very strongly at one point– literally pushing it into her body. One new sequence which uses 5 bowls varies itself incredibly in this session and plays a long time and is so rich, I don’t know what to make of it except that I keep on playing. At the end, there is a point where it feels like the end, yet I get the sense to continue. I don’t know where that comes from either, but all the bowls wanted to play and had not yet. So I continued. I mention this and Barb said she had felt the energies leave and I had stoppped and then continued. She hadn’t been sure what to make of that, but at least I had confirmed that a shift did occur. Perhaps our recipient wanted more (I usually do!) and that’s why the session continued; perhaps all the bowls wanted to play. Interesting. What I do know is that the work is powerful.These two days confirm the importance of  individual work as well as the group sessions.

Jan. 2

We arrive at the retreat center, which is a beautiful horse farm in Kentucky. As I set out the bowls, one woman picks them up and asks which bowls are for which chakras or how do you pick a bowls. I say “The bowl picks you.” Which is usually the case. She selects a beauty — a warm, rich bowl. We do sessions throughout the day being givers and recipients. I am a recipient for a woman who works with tuning forks and another who works with inaudible sound, like the dolphins’ sonar. I can feel the dolphin frequencies from her, and the tuning forks are cool, b/c they are so clearly “felt”. I later play for one of our hosts, who goes very deep. She cannot believe how wonderful it is. I know too the bowls are blessing their land. Later I play for the group as the lasagna gets slightly burnt by our inattention to it when everybody zones out. The concert ends with the master bowl from the Bon monks and Rose Quartz/White Gold Alchemy — this combination is both shamanic and sweet. People are always amazed by the bowls. I am amazed. I hope to be always amazed.

January 1, 2010

Who would have thought I’d really be here! 2010! I play for these people I’ve known 30 years. One comes up later and says the crystal bowls were too sharp for her, but she liked the Tibetan bowls. I’ve heard this a couple of times before. I know I get sensitive to certain frequencies. I’d like to know more about this. The 20 year olds come up and are very interested. They play them, I tell my story how I got into them.  I had wondered if the one with the rock ‘n roll bands would find them interesting. It seems he does somewhat, but the one who’s been a musician much of his life is quite intrigued. Now an animator, perhaps they will be a point of inspiration. Another who is a statistician, but whose mother is into alternative therapies, is also intrigued. Then I’m off to Cincinnati to meet friends and leave for Kentucky.