An article written for Breathing Space a Devon based monthly

Sounding Bowls are a unique and modern instrument used by performers as well as hospices and healing centres across the world. Within a Sounding Bowl bronze wound strings are stretched across richly figured Cherry, Sycamore or Ash wood whose notes resound from spiral section curves to enfold the player in a unique bud-shape of sound.

My passion as a wood-sculptor has always been to transform the beauty that trees offer us in their own shapes and material so that the forms I bring to it as a human artist harmonise with what they intrinsically offer. After years of searching for a harmonious balance in this creative act I found audible harmony resounding from within the bowl-forms I was creating. Unsure how best to bring out the innate harmony of this acoustic space, I wracked my brains without result. Then one night while meditating an image of a bowl stretching a tuned string within it appeared before me. Fitting the first string to a wooden bowl was like seeing life being breathed into it. Music, like flame is a mystery. One minute I had the smoke of a rich tonal echo, the next it burst into song.

Conscious Sound "Let the Trees Sing"

The circle has always contained magic for human beings. From stone circles through round temples to crop circles, and from goddess cauldrons through circle dancing to the holy grail we have images of circle magic going beyond our comprehension.

In a Sounding Bowl the taut string gives a contrast to this circle that brings harmony. Straight line and circle, a geometric presentation of the Cup and Sword of mediaeval romantic ideology. Harmonising our inner life with the demands of daily life is about finding the true genius, within whose musical flame we can weave together the apparently disparate, so that our life becomes a creative gift in place of a dualist battle.

Sounding Bowls are often used as a tool for meditation allowing a single resounding note to connect us with the source of our innate harmony. Or two notes to explore the “space between” from which all manifest reality flows. Three notes could be used to explore the relationships of the trinity or of the white, the red and the black aspects of the goddess.

Whether the healing flows from the fact that a great deal of meditative love and care has gone into each instrument, or whether it flows from the wood itself, given a chance to resound without joint or glue bond, or whether it flows from the harmonised contrast of the hand carved texture of the underside, the smooth sanded inside and the soft curves with the taut straight line I do not know.

But many, many testaments to the healing and uplifting effect of Sounding Bowls do come back to me. Hospitals in many countries now use them. Care homes buy Sounding Bowls by the dozen. Cambridge University did a Controlled Trial in a secure psychiatric hospital, finding them more effective in music therapy than any other hand held instrument. For opening up the soul, healing a body, or a life individuals in many countries find Sounding Bowls extraordinary ‘beings,’ a key to universal harmony.

Music is a doorway. Harmony is universal, awaiting an invitation from us.

Tobias Kaye