between sound and silence - 8 singing bowl meditations
performed by michael askill
This CD comprises eight improvisations performed by Michael Askill featuring the pure sounds of unprocessed singing bowls - no synthesizers of electronics - sequenced to provide a smooth 30' meditational journey.
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listening to singing bowls - visualising sound
Listening to singing bowls is different to listening to music that is created using scales (western or non-western) to create melodies and harmonies. Singing bowls are not created to be 'in-tune' with the notes of any prescribed scale and they are not made to be played in a band or ensemble. (Having said that, a bowl can accidentally be 'in-tune' with a note of a particular scale, but may display strong overtones that make it sound 'out-of-tune').
When listening to bowls being played live or on a recording, try to turn off the habitual tendency to listen for melodies or combination of tones that sound 'happy' or 'sad'. Inevitably this might happen because of our long conditioning to the western musical concepts of major and minor ('happy' and 'sad') or our own concepts of 'like' and 'dislike'. Instead try to listen for the combinations of sounds within each bowl and the pulsing or fluttering of the sound. Close your eyes (the visual sense draws too much brain energy!) and internally 'watch' the sounds. Bowl sounds last a long time, so it is a good practice to try to be aware of a single bowl sound's long disappearance into silence or into the ambient sounds that surround us - traffic, birds, voices etc. You will become more aware that we are always surrounded by some kind of sound, but as you listen and internally 'watch' the bowl sound disappear into the distance, there is a moment of glimpsing the awareness and source of all things - the moment between sound and silence. This 'between' moment is described in many Buddhist and Vedic texts - it can also be the moment between breathing in and breathing out, the moment between thoughts or the moment between wakeful awareness and sleep.
Here is a quote related to hearing from the Surangama Sutra:
”The faculty of hearing, beyond creation
And annihilation, truly is permanent.
Even when isolated thoughts in a dream arise,
Though the thinking process stops, hearing does not end,
For the faculty of hearing is beyond
All thought, beyond both mind and body.”
Visualise the sound of bowls as gently pulsing, warm and inviting lights. Hear a single bowl sound as a round pebble dropped into a pool of infinite silence. A second bowl sound and it's overtones will gently 'interfere' with the first bowl's sound and create additional pulses and flutters - immerse yourself in these gentle waves of sound. When two or more bowls combine and disperse leaving the sound of a single bowl - the effect can be like gliding through gentle turbulence into a clear blue sky.
The 'voice' of each bowl is different. The voice of a newly manufactured bowl often seems metallic and hollow compared to the voice of a beautiful old bowl that is velvety, warm and wise.