In the following text I will tell you more precisely of the sound bowls, my own experiences, the playing technique I use on the album and I’ll answer to a few frequently asked questions. In case you prefer to base your opinion on your own experience, please do not read further, but listen the short samples from iTunes or the free 5 minutes demo from Soundcloud-link.
The bowls I use, are produced by Peter Hess. The bowls are manufactured in traditional way out of 12 metals in Nepal under control of a member of the Peter Hess family. They are hand made and hand selected to maintain certain quality standards. After the import they are being selected a second time.
All the bowls are unique. Each one has it’s own base tone, harmonic scale and “chorus effect” – kind of vibrato. I use on this album three different bowls. When I chose my own set, I payed a lot of attention for each bowls open vibration, rich overtones and harmonic balance. After that I made many combinations to find the best set to fit together with each other, both by ear and by vibration. I’m sure that my background as musician helped a lot.
It also makes a big difference how we play the bowls. There are mallets with felt heads, hard and soft for different sounds. The precise contact point, how close to the edge we hit makes a difference. Also the speed of the mallet, the length of movement, the ease of movement and the precise timing with the bowls own already existing vibration affects the end result.
On this album I mainly use a three-stroke pattern. Inside this pattern there is often a slight slowing down. The first and second hit are within my pre-chosen inside pulsation, the third one slightly delayed. This pattern creates on unconscious level feeling of calming down, which supports relaxation and ease. The dynamics are most of the time so, that the first hit is soft, the second slightly stronger and the third one again a tiny bit less. In this way there will also be small natural phrases inside the longer structure. The patterns built up with three bowls and three stroke phrases create safe and relaxing atmosphere. The subtle changes in dynamics and nuances bring liveliness to the experience and help avoiding machine-like boredom. Our minds can unconsciously get inspired by shades. In the large scale there is also long phrasing dynamically. All this is inside a dynamic range narrow enough to keep the volume same for complete session. I recommend to start the listening with relatively quiet volume. Our hearing adapts quickly to the chosen level, and at the same time our sensitivity grows also with other senses. It is likely, that after listening you are more aware of your own state of mind and body.
In the longer tracks for 20 & 30 minutes I also use the gong. It is also handmade, mainly of bronze. I play it hitting with soft mallet as well as rubbing with rubber-head overtone mallet. Gong comes along when I have already built up a peaceful and relaxing soundscape with bowls. At this point the wide scale of harmonic overtones open up metaphorically a new scene for mind. The “whale-like” natural overtone sounds are superfood for our unconscious mind: creativity, new ideas and problem solving. These longer tracks have bowls and gong following each other, helping to build up both safe calmness and the unpredictable, inspiring creativity.
The introductory texts I wrote based by my own experiences, as well as what I’ve learned from others during years. I warmly thank my previous teachers: Seppo Heino, Reetta Vanhanen and Veli-Matti Toivonen. Huge thanks also for Alex Freeman, who helped also for translation to English of the recorded text, as well as reading it. For me it is very important that the meaning of the text is strongly synchronized with the emotion in the voice. Here Alex did a great job too.
There are wide possibilities for different uses of this material: lunch-time relaxation, preparing for exams, travelling by plane/ train/ coach (noise-cancelling headphones are great), waiting in queues, covering unwanted noise in hotels, meditation, yoga, retreats, bathing, looking for inspiration, sleeping problems etc.
I know that in certain schools they have some bowls for ADHD kids to be played when needed.
Sometimes people ask me whether you can benefit of sound bowl relaxation with ear-phones, while the physical vibration is so important?
It is true, that the sound itself is only one part of the whole package. If it is possible I strongly recommend that you get to experience and feel the vibration also with your hands and body. It will certainly give you more holistic experience. After that it is also easier to reply the experience both to your mind and body with listening only the sound. At the same time we can think of ourselves seeing a beautiful picture of peaceful landscape by the sea. By using our imagination we can feel the sand under our feet, smell the scents and hear the birds around. All this is possible just by looking a picture. Likewise, by listening a good quality sounds of bowls, our imagination and incredible minds can create a feeling in our bodies of the vibration as if the bowl was ringing next to us. Of course this becomes easier when we have actually memorized the physical experience to be brought back alive.
I would love to hear your experiences, feedback and possible new ideas how and where to use the Relaxing Sound Bowls. Feel free to contact.