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Originally Posted On: https://bellsofbliss.com/blogs/good-to-know/singing-bowl-playing-instructions
Playing a singing bowl
Making sound with singing bowls is both relaxing and energizing. It is such a pleasure to listen to the warm tone, soft vibrations, and many pronounced pulsating overtones. This little gift can be yours every day. This is also a great way to share something with others.
Singing bowls can be played in group mediation, the classroom, a yoga studio, or for your family. Singing bowls can be part of daily practice for religious people. Singing bowls are good for the body and soul.
Consider the sound as a gift for others. It is truly a gift. Himalayan singing bowls common name is Tibetan singing bowls are standing bells. They produce a full-toned ringing sound when struck, just like all bells. You can get the best sound by striking the singing bowl high up on the edge with a soft mallet.
You can also use a wooden, leather (suede) padded, or plastic mallet to make a singing bowl to sing. Singing bowl emits a continuous sound if the rubbing mallet is kept in constant pressurized contact with the rim. You can emphasize the different overtones in a singing bowl by varying the striking and rubbing mallets. Every singing bowl is different, so practice with each bowl to discover the best playing techniques.
How to play a singing bowl by striking?
Hold a singing bowl on your open palm, fingertips, or place it on a cushion or other soft surface. When holding a bowl, you should keep your palm flat open. Another way of holding a singing bowl is by putting it up on your stretched fingertips.
Do not touch the sides of your singing bowl as this will cause the sound to be muffled. Make contact only with the bottom of your singing bowl.
Even though singing bowls are made of metal, they are very fragile.
You must be careful not to strike your singing bowl hard (especially small size singing bowls), as this can cause it to be knocked off your hand and get damaged.
Try out different striking mallets to find the right one for your singing bowl. A mallet that is too big or too soft will make small singing bowls sound very quiet. A mallet with a small and very firm impact surface will not be able to bring out all the tones in a larger bowl.
All the singing bowls listed on our website are sold with the proper size complimentary striking and rubbing mallets.
The soft cloth padded mallet will bring out the best, complex tone. A heavier beater is recommended for large singing bowls that exceed nine inches in diameter. Use a similar to bass drum beater. A large bowl can be played with a large muffin beater to produce a wide range of sounds.
Usually, on other websites, singing bowls come for sale with a simple wooden mallet. A bare-wood mallet can produce a metallic tone that emphasizes the more high overtones. Striking the singing bowl with this type of mallet can sound harsh and piercing. It is better to use a mallet that has been padded with a cloth.
How to hold a singing bowl mallet?
Keep the mallet firmly in your hand, but loosen your wrist. Your wrist should be free to move. A free wrist allows the mallet to bounce slightly after impact. This is the ideal action.
The exact spot you hit the bowl can make a big difference in how it sounds. The bowl should be struck from the side, the closer to the rim the better. It will vibrate less if it is struck too far down the singing bowl’s side. Strike it at the rim. It is important to strike it correctly. Striking it directly sideways produces the best sound. It will vibrate less if you strike it down, from above. The louder and stronger sound will be produced when you strike your singing bowl harder.
The tone can become metallic, too strong, and unattractive if you strike it too hard. The tone will sound weak and unimpressive if the sound bowl is struck too soft. You should find the middle ground, where and how you give it a firm hit, that allows the tones to sing clearly (considering that you’re using a proper mallet).
A bare wooden mallet is not recommended for hitting a singing bowl hard as it can cause piercing sounds. For the best sound, use a cloth-covered mallet. There is less chance of damaging your singing bowl if you are striking it with a cloth padded mallet.
Singing bowls don’t typically break from gentle playing. They may break from dropping them or when objects are dropped on them.
The tone can be varied by turning the singing bowl and striking different parts of the rim. Each spot will have a different level of warble. Depending on where you strike the bowl, either the low tone or the overtones will warble. When struck in different locations, the sounding pitch will change.
A lot of singing bowls can vary their pitch as much as a quarter tone. There are many tricks to consider, so try striking at different locations around the rim and experiment with the different beaters and rubbing mallets.
Sweet spots of singing bowls
The “sweet spot” is the area where the singing bowl sounds clearest, most steady, and smoothest. Hitting at the sweet spot will produce less warble and more balanced overtones. Experiment with turning the bowl until you find the sweet spot.
Variating the manner you strike the bowl can alter the tone. A gentler stroke will produce a softer tone. It can produce a louder tone, and the bowl will sound clearer if you strike it harder. A metallic or harsh tone can be created if you strike it too hard.
Not all singing bowls have a prominent sweet spot, particularly thicker ones. When you find a sweet spot of your singing bowl, you may want to mark it with ink. It will make it easier to strike the sweet spot the next time you play.
A slightly different tone can be achieved by changing the angle of your stick. The sound will appear more percussive if you hit the singing bowl right on the top of the rim. Try striking the bowl changing the trajectory angle, at different spots, and with different amounts of force. The results may surprise you. Striking in one direction will emphasize the low tone; striking in another will highlight the second or third overtones.
To alter the tone, you can strike a bowl full force and then tap it lightly. You can alter the tone and create a variety of sounds from one singing bowl. All you have to do is to practice.
Small and medium-sized metal singing bowls typically ring for 40-60 seconds, with the overtones lasting longer. Some singing bowls only ring for 30 seconds, while others ring for more than a minute. The ringing time of new hand-hammered singing bowls is typically slightly longer than the old ones. Some can even ring for more than two minutes.
Usually, the contemporary hand-hammered singing bowls have a more metallic sound and are louder than the old ones. The sound of antique singing bowls is typically mellow and softer. The most gentle and smooth-sounding antiques are usually the older ones.
How to make a singing bowl to sing?
The method of making a singing bowl sing is very simple. Rub the bowl around the rim with either bare wood or leather (suede) wrapped mallet. Wood emphasizes the high overtones, while leather highlights the medium register and lower tones.
Playing around the rim is not an option for a mallet padded with a soft cloth. The large beater and soft mallets are for striking only. Because the cloth will slipper on the wall of a singing bowl with practically no friction produced, it cannot be rubbed and make sounds.
You can use wood, leather, and other materials such as plastic, metal, or synthetic leather to play singing bowls around the rim. You can hold the bowl in one hand or balance it on your fingertips. The mallet should be held against the bowl’s outside rim.
Keep the mallet in your hand firmly. Don’t over tense your wrist and hand. Keep your shoulders relaxed and continue to breathe. Try different grips. You may try holding the mallet as a pencil with your fingers pointed downwards. Some prefer to grip the mallet with all their fingers, just like a spoon or baseball bat.
The pressure is what makes the sound. The mallet must be in constant contact with the rim. The mallet should be held at an angle so that it touches the rim. Slowly move the mallet around the singing bowl, applying even pressure. Keep the pressure on and don’t stop moving.
If the sound doesn’t rise, there is likely a spot in your rotation where you slightly let up on the pressure. This is typically at the bowl’s far end, so you will need to either extend your arm further to reach it or just position yourself closer to the bowl. Your hand should be low to the stick, but make sure that your fingers are not touching the bowl’s rim.
Making a singing bowl sing is more difficult if your hand is several inches above the bowl’s rim. Your hand should be very close to the bowl’s rim and your entire arm should move around it.
If you start hearing a rattling sound, slow down and apply more pressure. The mallet loosely vibrating against the metal (jumping on-and-off) causes that rattling sound. It takes a little pressure to maintain even friction with the metal as it vibrates back and forth. The rattle is usually heard in the same area when playing around the rim of the singing bowl. It happens because the pressure in that area is a little loose. The vibration can not be built up to a constant (steady) intensity if the singing bowl is rumbling. Listen to the sound rise slowly. Keep the pressure constant and the sound will build up to a loud tone in a matter of seconds.
Some singing bowls start vibrating quickly and can sing instantly. Sometimes it takes several seconds to make the singing bowl sing, especially if the bowl has a thicker wall. The sound will grow until it reaches its maximum volume. You can slow down to maintain the sound’s constant volume after it reaches full amplitude. Practice adjusting the speed of rotation to get full control of the sound.
Slow down to reduce the intensity of the tone, and speed up to increase it. To reduce the intensity, decrease the pressure and increase it to make your singing bowl sound more strongly. The sound may go down completely if you let up on the pressure. Start over and build the vibrations up slowly.
The vast majority of singing bowls can be played around the rim. However, there are a few exceptions. If a bowl is unable to sing, it could be a problem with your playing technique or a wrong size mallet. It is almost always due to a lack of steady pressure. People tend to move too fast and hold their hands too far from the rim. It takes practice. It is not difficult to learn to play singing bowls. Once you have it, it becomes effortless.
Try experimenting with the angle of your mallet. Find the right balance between speed, pressure, and angle so that the bowl sings fully, rising and falling, vibrating joyfully and continuously. It may surprise you how slow you can go. You should slow down, especially when the volume is high. The vibrations of the metal can become too strong if you speed up. Variate the speed to maintain a pleasant vibration.
How to play large singing bowls
Large singing bowls often have an amazing grounding quality. Large singing bowls produce deep sounds. Some singing bowls are more high-pitched and produce fuller voices.
A large, deep bowl that vibrates slowly is instantly calming. A large, high-pitched bowl will fill the space with a clear sound that is unlike any other. Large singing bowls typically cover three and more octaves.
The pitch will be determined by the size of the bowl, the thickness of the metal, and the extra tension created through a shaped edge (lip).
Thinner bowls are deeper. Bowls with a shaped lip sound higher. Bowls with a low pitch are ideal for meditation and relaxation. Singing owls with a higher pitch are better for large rooms and group sound journeys because they fill the room quickly and are more audible.
Large antique singing bowls can measure approximately 9.5 to 13 inches in diameter. Antique singing bowls are not exceeding 14 inches in diameter. Contemporary singing bowls are manufactured up to 34-36 inches in diameter. If the bowl is very large, it can weigh anywhere from 2 to 9-10 pounds.
A large singing bowl’s sound travels both down and sideways depending on its shape. These are great to keep on a wooden floor covered with carpet because the vibrations will be felt throughout the entire floor, even as it fills the air.
To prevent singing bowls from sliding when placing them on a hard surface, use a cushion or cloth. A rubber kitchen shelf liner is what I prefer.
Donut-shaped singing bowl cushions have a hole in their middle that prevents the bowl from sliding and allows vibrations to travel through it. A rubberized shelf liner can be used between the cushion and your singing bowl to prevent it from sliding around.
To play the rim of a large singing bowl, you can either leave the bowl on the cushion or hold it in your hand. Since the large singing bowls are pretty heavy, find the most comfortable way of holding them, so your hand won’t get tired right away. Place a large singing bowl on your hands. Experiment with different positions and feel the vibration in your body.
A powerful vibrational experience can be achieved by multiple large singing bowls. The tones can span three octaves. For a surround effect, place them around you. For sound healing, have friends and family lie on the ground with large singing bowls. You can feel the vibrations like a gentle massage.
How to play medium singing bowls
The most popular size for singing bowls is the medium, which can be 5.5 to 8 inches wide. Medium singing bowls often provide the best combination of tones.
A medium size singing bowl is the best choice for a personal singing bowl. Medium-sized singing bowls can produce tones similar to human voices. Because they are so easy to use and are comfortable to hold, they are often used for sound healing. Also, medium-sized singing bowls are felt comfortable on the body. Clients find the range of tones pleasant and it is easy to combine them into a harmonious ensemble.
It is a wonderful experience to feel the harmony of several medium-sized singing bowls. A good set can produce a symphony of complex vibrations.
Place a medium singing bowl on the tips of your fingers or on your open palm. Do not touch the bowl’s sides as this will dampen its sound. One of the overtones can be highlighted by playing around the rim. The bowl can be struck to produce a balanced tone that combines the overtones and the fundamental.
Playing the singing bowl around the rim should be done slowly if it is very thin. The vibration can become too strong and stop you from continuing playing. This effect can be avoided by slowing down your spinning.
Most singing bowls can be played by rubbing them around the rim using the right-sized mallet. Because of the extra thick wall, some singing bowls cannot be played around the rim.
How to play small singing bowls
The size of small singing bowls is between 3 and 5.5 inches. These small singing bowls offer the best in portability and mobility. The highest pitch can be produced by small singing bowls. Smaller bowls can produce remarkable high tones. Some small singing bowls, however, are very thin and therefore, produce deep tones.
It can be difficult to maneuver around the rim of small singing bowls, especially if they are very thick. Smaller size and thicker metal can create more tension which can make it less responsive to pressure from the rubbing mallet.
Some small bowls can be very light. A lightweight singing bowl can easily fall out of your hands when you play it around the rim. For a more balanced grip, place a small bowl on your fingertips.
Small singing bowls have a refined vibration that is great for sound healing, energy and space cleansing. The shimmering effect of a group of small singing bowls is unique. You can choose from a variety of tones, making them great for sound healing and music. You can use small singing bowls alone or in combination with larger bowls. Swinging chimes and other instruments used in sound healing practices such as tubular bells are great accompaniments for small singing bowls.
Tips for playing a singing bowl
Please consider taking my free course for mastering your playing skills.
If you are working professionally with the instruments commonly used in sound healing, please check my Sound Medicine Academy. to improve your practice.
- When holding a singing bowl on your palm, remove rings from your fingers. The vibrations of singing bowl may result as a buzzing sound if gets in contact with the jewelry.
- If you play a singing bowl rested on a floor, table or any other flat surface, place it on a rubberized shelf liner to avoid the singing bowl from touching the hard material of the surface under. A piece of shelf liner will also provide you with the needed grip, so the singing bowl will not spin while you are playing it by rubbing the rim.
- Keep your hand near the rim of the singing bowl. It is hard to apply enough pressure to make the bowl sing if your hand is more than a few inches from it.
- Slow down. Pressure and velocity are the two important factors to consider when creating friction. Slow down and apply equal pressure throughout the rotation. People often let go of pressure in the same area of the rotation.
- Slow down and apply more pressure if the bowl is rattling.
- The pressure should be increased if the tone fades rapidly after it starts.
- Increase the pressure when the sound rises.
- Experiment with different sizes and types of mallets. A thicker mallet will make larger singing bowls sing more effectively. Wood highlights the high overtones while leather emphasizes the low vibration. Some singing bowls are playing well with a suede mallet but not with wood. Some singing bowls are playing well with a bare wood mallet, but not with the suede padded ones.
- Some singing bowls won’t play around the rim. These bowls can only be used for striking.