Playing a singing bowl adds a more physical and active component to the creation of the sound and to your response to the sound. When you play them or listen to them, listen with your body; be aware of how the sound affects you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Some bowls are what is known as fountain bowls.
If you fill your Tibetan singing bowl about half way, and then play the bowl, the water may dance inside the bowl, creating the “fountain effect” shown in the video. Play the bowl slowly, and with a fair bit of pressure. When we were making this video, we tested all of our bowls, and the one shown gave the best effect. We then experimented with the amount of water we used. Too much water and the effect is dampened, too little, and the water level is not high enough up the sides of the bowl to be effected.
The fountain effect occurs because when a bowl is played, the walls of the bowl vibrate. You can feel this vibration when you play the bowl normally, and it is this same vibration that can cause the playing stick to “chatter” if not enough pressure is applied. It is this vibration that causes the water to bubble up, creating the thousands of tiny “fountains. However, the water in the bowl dampens (no pun intended) the sound of the bowl, so that you don’t hear the bowl as much as you do the water splashing.
If you wish to try this with your bowl, I would like to convey two things that we learned when we were filming this. First is that there will be water EVERYWHERE! Once it gets started, you will not be able to confine the water to your bowl. It will splash on the table, the floor, on you, and just about anywhere else it can reach. Second, is that the water will saturate the suede on your playing stick. I am not aware of a good way to dry the stick so that it will play well when dry. It is best if you use a stick that is past it’s prime, or that you pick up an inexpensive stick that you use just with your fountain bowl.
Some bowls are known as dolphin bowls.
Try putting in a a tablespoon or two of water into the bottom of your Tibetan singing bowl (we used one tablespoon – about 15ml of water for our video). With the bowl held on your fingertips, tap it with the felt end of the stick or with a playing mallet (medicine stick) – never use the wood end of the stick as you risk damaging the bowl if you strike too hard. As the bowl is singing from striking it, rock the bowl back and forth, causing the water inside to oscillate back and forth inside the bowl. When you are done, empty the bowl and dry it well, particularly if it is an old (master) bowl.
The dolphin bowl effect occurs because when played, the walls of the bowl vibrate. You can feel this vibration when you play the bowl normally, and it is this same vibration that can cause the playing stick to “chatter” if not enough pressure is applied. When the water rocks up and down the sides of the bowl, you are changing the resonant frequency of the bowl, essentially causing it to vibrate at a different frequency, or pitch, giving off the “dolphin” sound.
The bowl we used in the video was purchased partly because it was a dolphin bowl. We bought it long before we began doing workshops and offering bowls for sale ourselves. Imagine the looks we got from the store owners we visited, when we were trying them out and we asked if we could put water in the bowl to check it’s sound? Most had never heard of a dolphin bowl, but they agreed to let us try. This bowl is the result.
Playing a Tibetan Bowl
I am often asked how to play a Tibetan bowl. Playing a bowl is quite easy, but there are a few things that you need to know to get the best sound. So we created this video to show you.
I have included a five minute meditation with my old Tibetan singing bowl to allow you to experience the sound for a longer period of time. Remember that your intention is integral to the effect of a sound. Create your intention before you listen to the track. Examples might be something like creating peace or good health or a quiet mind.