A BRIEF HISTORY OF SOUNDBOARDS
The sounding bowl is a metal bowl made of special alloys, and in Sanskrit and Nepali its name is Dhwani Patra, which means resonating bowl.
To sound the bowls, a wooden mallet (the end of which is covered with leather or velvet) is used, thanks to which the speaker of the bowl gets a long-lasting, gentle, yet intense sound.
The greatness of the sound bowl lies in the fact that you don't need to be an expert to make it sound, anyone can produce this long-lasting, captivating unique sound.
It is its simplicity and the pleasant atmosphere created by the unique sound that made this device popular.
How is a sound bowl made?
The size, shape, shape, weight, decoration and quality of the sound bowl depend on the production process: the bowls can be produced using different technologies.
Traditional bowls are made by hand forging, precision or loss-of-wax casting, but in recent decades machine production has gained more and more ground.
The production process determines the most important features of the bowl:
The quality is in the sound
The sound quality of the bowl is primarily determined by the length of the sound and the quality of the sound vibration.
The longer the sound of the bowl rings, the better the quality of the bowl and the better the therapeutic effect achieved by the sound.
Each bowl has a unique sound, which is fine-tuned in the last phase of the casting process.
In such cases, it is still possible to choose which type of sound should be dominant.
Sound therapy usually uses clear tones between the third and fifth octaves - in some cases, bowls with different tones are used, but this is not common.
Master level users of sound therapy and professional musicians sometimes customize the properties of a sound bowl by choosing a special alloy and production process during the order.
What can a sound bowl be used for?
The sound bowl can be used in a variety of ways in music and during therapeutic procedures.
During sound therapy, depending on the purpose of the application and the type of therapy, a single bowl can be used, but professional sound therapists usually use two or more bowls, which are often supplemented with other devices.
Musicians also usually supplement the sound bowl with other instruments during concerts.
The sound bowl can be positioned in several ways during playback.
If it is used for therapeutic purposes, it can be held in the open palm, placed - depending on the therapy - on different points of the body or on the pillow specially made for this purpose.
Sound bowl or Tibetan sound bowl?
Although sound bowls are often referred to as Tibetan sound bowls, the truth is that they are traditionally made in Nepal, Bhutan, China, India, Burma, Korea and Japan, and only a small part of them originates from Tibet.
According to an interview with an old lama, there were only three sound bowls in Tibet before the Chinese occupation.
They believed that their origins date back to the time of the Buddha and were held in high esteem.
According to the legend, if someone made the bowls sound, it was possible to decide whether their karma was positive or negative: people with the latter could not make them sound, or if they did, the sound made by the bowl was very soft and distorted.
On the other hand, if a person with positive karma played the bowls, they produced a beautiful, clear, ringing sound.
These bowls, considered relics, were very famous and had great religious significance, which is probably the reason why the singing bowls are still considered to be of Tibetan origin.
The legendary and colorful Tibetan sound bowls
It is easy to see the significance of these three bowls, as the monks believe that anyone who has heard these bowls chanted, even one of the three bowls, will never go to hell or any lower form of existence.
The old lamas believe that these original singing bowls had several functions.
On the one hand, they served as a kind of bell, which was used to call the lamas together, because during the ringing of the bowl, such energies were released that even the relatively quiet sound could be heard from great distances between the mountains.
On the other hand, they also served teaching purposes, the sound emitted served as a lesson for all beings.
Buddha's message in the singing bowls
It is believed that Buddha did not always teach with words, but with the help of bowls.
By making the sound of the singing bowls, the Buddha's own energy helped generate the sound and this energy carried the teaching.
As one of the last Tibetan lamas, Lama Lobsang Leshe, put it in an interview, sometimes the Buddha does not act with the physical body, but with the help of created energy.
According to legend, the sound of these three bowls is very special, because one of the metals used to make them comes from a meteorite, which has a completely different quality than any other metal in the world.
How many types of sound bowls can you find?
The size, material, and pattern of modern sounding bowls depend on the place where they are made, each region makes different types of bowls, the most well-known bowls made for therapeutic purposes usually come from Nepal.
Nowadays, you can also meet crystal, glass and ceramic sound bowls: these traditionally did not serve therapeutic purposes, but nowadays they are sometimes included in the therapy repertoire as alternative tools.
The wide selection of sound bowls, the ease of playing them and their therapeutic effect have made this instrument deeply embedded in Asian culture known worldwide.
The origin of the name singing bowl used in the Western world is lost in the mists of time, but according to the members of the Kasa family, which deals with traditional metal casting from the city of Patan, the name originates from the 1960s.
It was then that Western tourists began to visit Nepal in greater numbers, who were intrigued by the culture of the country closed off from the rest of the world, and more and more people wanted to get to know its spiritual life as well.
This led to a growing interest in various religious instruments – bowls, bells, cymbals and other spiritual instruments.
More than anything else, the interest of tourists was aroused by the world of Buddhism
The reason for this is that the lamas who were forced to flee from Tibet due to the Chinese occupation settled in the valleys around Kathmandu at this time and brought their religious rituals and tools with them to Nepal.
The sound bowl took a particularly prominent place among attention-grabbing devices due to its ease of use, its therapeutic function and its captivating sound.
As the local artisans faced the ever-increasing demand, it became obvious that they had to find a name that would be easy for tourists to remember and refer to the bowl's function.
The English name "Singing Bowl", which is widely used today, developed naturally in the markets of Kathmandu, where more and more western tourists visited the stalls where the bowls were sold.
The birth of the western name of the sound bowl symbolizes the meeting of tradition and modern times, as well as the intertwining of local and global culture.
Is there a difference between hand-made and machine-made sound bowls?
After the early days, the demand for singing bowls continued to grow, giving a new impetus to the Nepali artisans and industry.
The range of both hand-made and machine-pressed sound bowls has increased over time, and their production is now considered a serious source of income.
Machine-made sound bowls are cheaper due to their production technology, and the method of production does not detract from their beauty and value.
These bowls are perfect for religious purposes, decoration and gift.
On the other hand, handmade bowls are increasingly rare, thanks to the rare alloys used in their production and the traditional technology, which requires significantly more time than the production of machine-made sound bowls.
Thanks to the traditional technology, the quality of these bowls is completely different from machine bowls.
The fine-tuning performed in the last phase of casting enables the creation of clear, high-quality sounds used in sound therapy.
Also, the techniques used during fine-tuning also allow the sound to vibrate much longer than in the case of a mechanical cymbal.
Accordingly, the price of these bowls is higher than that of machine bowls.
In our online store, you can find both machine-made and hand-made sound bowls: take your pick!