Marie Bergman, a musician and singer from Stockholm, Sweden, visited Bodhisattva on a quest to find a bowl. With great ease, she selected a 10 7/8″ with a slightly sharp G fundamental on the second octave – a perfect choice for a singer. As she bonded with her bowl, she began to sing – almost as if her process of getting to know the bowl was to sing with it. Ever ready with my trusty iphone, I captured the moment in video. Marie was also kind enough to give her an interview and talk about her work:
Can you tell us about your background in music?
I am a professional musician and singer/songwriter for some thirty years. I have made twenty recordings with my own compositions and three CDs with jazz music. I have been touring in Scandinavia for many years and have also represented Sweden in a European Song contest three times. My voice has a pretty wide range and I have always all the time been searching for more ways of expressing myself through the wonders of the voice. I find the voice has endless possibilities!
Your singing felt like a lullaby to me. Were you at all influenced by the folk music of Sweden?
Well, folk music is running in my blood but it is not the core of my expression. When I sing with the bowls it often shines through like an archetypal depth of the voice. But my toning comes out differently each time.
How did you come to explore harmonics?
In the mid-80’s I had a lot of problems with my voice. I was performing rock n roll and raw soul, and I was hard on the voice. I was also in pain from too much tension. This all together created a (very much needed…) breakdown. I silenced myself for a long time and when I returned to the sound again, I learned to sing and express myself differently. I also during this time experienced the healing power of the voice and learned to breathe much deeper. I started to meditate and take care of myself. I became fascinated of the voice´s capability to adjust and how it helped me mature my singing and through this I started to experience toning as a training method. It became my freedom. And that helped me keep the singing voice even more fresh and vital. I discovered there was a lot of power and life force in the harmonics. I started to listen to them very carefully.
How do you use harmonics in your music?
I differ my singing voice from the toning voice. My singing voice is a storyteller, where the words are important but also the sounds of the words. Songs are form. Harmonics makes my singing voice more clear and lifts the flow, making the singing physical and powerful without pressure. When I tone, I stay more purposely with the harmonics, letting them vibrate and resonate in their own frequency and time. Together with the bowls, the expression gets strong and spiritual. I use the mouth and the body resonators differently when I tone. I become like a wind instrument.
What attracted you to singing bowls?
The beautiful archetypal sound, the physical resonance, the timeless vibration, the beauty and the wisdom!
How do you use their vibration in sound healing?
I work with voice and Ssinging bowls in different settings. Sometimes more performance-like when the purpose is to gather people. When I do sound healing on the bodymind, I direct the sounds from the bowl and my voice to the body (my own or another’s) with a special intention. I also put the different bowls on different parts of the body of a client when I do ”singing bowl-massage”. I am trained in sound healing as well as in the ”Peter Hess method” of singing bowl-massage. I often combine sound healing and singing bowl-massage and train others as well. Peter Hess singing bowl-massage is a wonderful, deep relaxation method for regaining spiritual and physical health, to refresh and vitalize your cells as well as your muscles, tissues and organs. In the massage, I place different sizes of bowls on different specific parts of the body. I strike them gently and let the beautiful matching frequencies of the bowls do their magic wave work with elegance and grace.
Tell us of how you are using the bowls in your community.
My own voice school BERGMAN VOICE and the use of singing bowls has developed as an extension from my singing seminars and teaching at the Music Conservatories in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. I run seminars in toning and voice workshops all year round. I offer singing bowl-massage. Sometimes I perform with the bowls and let them illustrate a poem or resonate beautifully and sensually with a song. I always have them with me even when I give singer/songwriter performances solo or with the band. I use them in the concerts in at least one or two songs.
I use the bowls when I do my gatherings in one of the biggest churches in Stockholm, the Katarina church. I call it ”Come Together-Ceremonies”. Everyone is welcome. I always open this ceremony with the singing bowl and my voice, an improvisation where the resonance is flying freely under the heights in the cathedral. It always gives me and everybody goose bumps. Then I teach the audience how to tone and they gather in a circle with their voices and I also let them walk around in the church, singing freely. They are happy! It’s very beautiful. See the You Tube link.
How did you discover the language?
I was training a lot with the voice, also did a quite heavy sound therapy and sound healing to clean blockages and resistances in the beginning to allow myself to get out of the box. When I started to play the bowls it kind of powered up the voice by itself. I guess the voice was very happy about the good vibrations! I learned to keep out of pressure as much as possible and another language was discovered and created.
Do you find yourself at home in a certain key?
I try to widen the voice range as much as possible. I find that all the frequencies has its own fascination. I also find that harmonics has helped my voice to expand and move freely among the different keys as much as possible. Voice is the mirror of the life force!
Do you believe specific notes are associated with the Chakras?
Yes. But I found they differ a bit from person to person. But of course they range from low to higher and the other way around.
How can one purchase your recordings?
Spotify on my name: Marie Bergman. But I haven’t yet recorded my toning with the singing bowls. Maybe sooner than later hopefully…
We hope sooner, Marie!