Hold the singing bowl on the palm of the left hand. For
smaller bowls, seven inches and under, hold on your fingertips.
Grasp the mallet about mid-length, with all the fingertips
pointing downwards and touching the wood. (If you are using one of our padded mallets, the
red wool should be on top.) Palm downward.
Gently tap the mallet against the side of the bowl to
"warm-up" the bell.
With an even pressure, rub the mallet clockwise around the
outside edge of the rim of the bowl. Use a full arm movement, just like stirring a big
kettle of soup, and keep the mallet straight up and down! Again, it's not a wrist
movement, but a full-arm movement.
Remember to apply pressure-- the
friction of the mallet against the
outer rim produces vibrations which result in sound.
Experiment with your speed. Usually people go too fast! Let
the sound build up slowly as the singing bowl picks up the vibration.
Breaking in Your Mallet
The mallet that comes with your Tibetan
singing bowl is handmade of Himalayan hardwood. When you play the bowl, using the
mallet-around-the-rim technique, the friction of the mallet produces vibrations which
result in sound. In the beginning the mallet is relatively smooth, but as you continue to
use it it will develop "micro-grooves", shallow grooves which help to grab more
of the playing edge of the bowl. Allow about five minutes for initial break-in of a new
mallet. As you use the mallet more the micro-grooves become impressed in the mallet and
you will get better sound and easier playing from your bowl.
Most all Tibetan singing bowls have natural
wah-wahs which you can amplify and bend by using the wah-wah technique.
Get the bowl singing by using the mallet-around-the-rim
technique described above. Pull the mallet away from the bowl and let the bowl continue to
While still holding the bowl in your hand, raise the bowl
up to your mouth so that the outside rim is just above the opening of your mouth and about
an inch away.
Open and close your mouth while thinking of the sound
wah-wah. You are not actually making any sound with your mouth, but simply changing the
shape of the oral cavity so as to allow the sound of the singing bowl to bounce around
inside of your mouth and then be reflected back. By changing the size of the oral cavity
you are modulating the sound!
Experiment with the relative position of
your mouth to the outside bowl rim. Also, if you turn the bowl, while experimenting with
the wah-wah effect, you will find "hot spots" where the bowl is naturally
Water Bowl Sounds
A special sound effect can be produced by
adding a small amount of water to the bottom of the singing bowl. The sounds produced
using this technique sound like dolphins singing!
The amount of water to use varies with the individual bowl.
Start by pouring about 3/4" of water into the bowl. Be careful NOT to get the outside
rim of the bowl wet.
Now, play the bowl using the mallet-around- the-rim
technique. Bring up the sound by using a steady even pressure. Pull the mallet away from
the bowl rim and let the bowl continue to sing.
Still holding the bowl in your hand, tilt the bowl so that
the water inside gently laps up toward the inside rim. Continue to gently swirl and tilt
the bowl and the water.
Experiment with the amount of
water used. Usually the best effect is produced with a minimum amount of water. Keep a
towel handy in case of spills.
Isolating the Fundamental
This technique requires awareness, breath and
concentration. If you have a fairly thin-walled Buddha bowl, you can isolate
the fundamental (bass tone) by using a leather-covered mallet. Follow the
instructions regarding your rimming technique for the female overtone, only
use the leather end of your mallet for rimming and make sure your mallet is
pointed straight up. Experiment with using a lighter pressure.