Singing Bowl

Name: Singing Bowl.
Type: Friction Vessels > Idiophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 133.1
Specimens: 2 in collection (Tibetan / Taiwanese).
Country: China > Many.
Regions: Far East Asia.

Description: A “singing bowl” or standing bell or resting bell is an inverted bell, supported from below with the rim uppermost. Singing bowls originate from China from an early form called “nao” and spread through Tibet towards Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Such bells are normally bowl-shaped, and exist in a wide range of sizes. From a few centimetres to a metre in diameter. They are often played by striking. Singing bowls may also be played by rotating a mallet around the outside rim to produce a sustained musical note.

Usage: The manufacture and use of bowls specifically for ‘singing’ is believed to be a modern phenomenon. Bowls that were capable of singing began to be imported to the West from around the early 1970s. Since then they have become a popular instrument in the US-originating new-age genre often marketed as ‘Tibetan music’.

Playing Techniques: Struck singing-bowls are used in some Buddhist religious practices to accompany periods of meditation and chanting. Struck and singing bowls are widely used for music making, meditation and relaxation, as well for personal spirituality. They have become popular with music therapists, sound healers and yoga practitioners.