Frank Perry - Tibetan Singing Bowls - All-Conquering Light

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All of these pieces were recorded during January of 2005 and I had all of my bowls with me (over 200) . The improvisations were each recorded in one take with no overdubs or multi-tracking and no mixing and no electronic effects whatsoever. You are hearing the pure unadulterated sound of these wonderful singing bowls. Finally, on the second day, two microphones were found to work best and off we went! 
 
Initiating this series of improvised recordings I had laid out in two spirals adjacent to one another, a set of (23) Yang bowls and a set of (42) Yin bowls and behind me either my 34" PAISTE Symphonic gong (bought in 1973) or my PAISTE Tuned Symphonic gong that I bought in 1979. After exploring this preliminary set-up I decided to add smaller sets of bowls in-between these two spirals e.g. a set of Chinese Buddha Bells. Scheduled into the recording sessions were two concerts - one on the Friday night and one on the last day, the Saturday evening. This meant that during Saturday the arrangement of singing bowls was left over from the Friday evening concert. This array was rather akin to a normal concert with a horseshoe-shaped constellation of (here) some 65 singing bowls placed in-between the sets of Yin and Yang bowls. On Saturday there was time for 3 improvisations upon this alternative set-up but these didn't feature the family of Yin bowls and only a few of the Yang bowl spiral sometimes joined in. Tracks #10 & #14 arose from these final spontaneous improvisations.
 
The majority of improvisations were performed upon this initial set-up being as time did not permit me otherwise. I like to work with silence - allowing the bowls to move in and out of silence and allowing them to decay. This is demanding, as the bowls aren't noisy instruments, and the studio wasn't completely sound proof. It has been very rare for me to record in sound-proofed studios since 1983. My creativity is not the kind that generates large sums of money that would allow the comfort of recording in a noise-free zone. I had hoped to have had the time and opportunity to explore other combinations of bowls but that desire will have to wait. 
 
Several combinations of instruments were used for these improvisations and I have never used any of these combinations before and there were no rehearsals. This created a uniquely inspiring and stimulating improvising environment for me to explore and enjoy. Whilst the opening arrangement was still laid out, it seemed natural to do some improvisations exploiting both the Yin group and the Yang group alone. In performance, there are generally musical sections devoted to either one or both of these sets of bowls. However, I had recently added some extended techniques, especially within the Yin Bowl spiral, and it was one of my wishes to record some improvisations exploring these extra compositional devices. These two groups of bowls are typically placed either side of a large horseshoe-shaped set-up of around 70 other bowls, or more, placed in-between them. There is usually some 15 to 25 feet between these two sets and so they are never played in the combination, explored for the first time, here. During a live concert, it is not unusual for me to spend an amount of time playing amongst the set of Yang bowls and that of the Yin bowls and so playing improvisations upon these sets alone is somewhat familiar.

#1    Absorbed in the Voice of Fire.   (12-1-2005)   (5:25) 
The 34" PAISTE Symphonic Gong moves amongst the lively interactions between the Yang and Yin bowl sets with 23 Yang bowls and 42 Yin bowls laid out in spiral patterns alongside one another and the Gong suspended behind and between them.
 
#2    Be at Peace.   (14-1-2005)   (3:40)   
A peaceful sequence using only the Yang bowls leaving them plenty of space to work their sound magic. The Yang bowls are very stilling and bring us in touch with our centre.
 
#3    Bell Mountain.   (14-1-2005)   (4:04)    
A slightly more active sequence - again using only the Yang bowls but here exploring a wider range. Yang bowls seem to prefer to work alone as individuals. They possess a cleansing property and, also, being attuned to the vertical axis, they help to align us with our aspirations upwards. Each bowl rings on and on whilst producing a very specific and clear combination of harmonics. More closely aligned to meditation, I prefer to allow their sounds to remain largely unencumbered with too much complexity.

#4    Encircling Peaks on the Boundary of Fire.   (13-1-2005)   (9:10)
Placed between the two spirals of Yang and Yin bowls are a set of four medium-pitched singing bowls exploiting sympathetic resonance as a magic carpet for the two families of spirals to play upon. The Boundary of Fire here refers to Shambhala.
 
#5    Enfolded in the Cape of Singing Fire.   (14-1-2005)   (3:51)
This is the third of the four improvisations played upon the magical Yin bowl spiral. Only Yin bowls are used. These have a very beautiful opening effect. There were 42 laid out and their microtonal intervals are exploited whilst leaving them plenty of space to work their sound magic. Several techniques were used but these truly come into their own when played in sequential runs. No electronics are used - what you hear is totally produced by these instruments alone.   
To listen please click HERE (There are NO electronics - what you hear is what my ears heard!)
 
#6    Fiery Penetration of Darkness.   (12-1-2005)   (7:54)
An improvisation featuring the set of 23 Yang Bowls and 42 Yin bowls and also including a set of 6 Bhutanese Yang bowls and the 34" PAISTE Symphonic Gong. The floating harmonics of the Bhutanese bowls underlie the dynamic distinction between the Yang and Yin bowl families in this improvisation whilst the Gong floats in upon each hovering cloud cluster of Yin bowls.    
 
#7    The Path.   (12-1-2005)   (8:03) 
An improvisation featuring the set of 23 Yang Bowls and 42 Yin bowls and also including a set of 6 Bhutanese Yang bowls. The floating harmonics of the Bhutanese bowls underlie the dynamic contrast between the Yang and Yin bowl families in this improvisation.   
 
#8    Garment of Singing Golden Fire.   (14-1-2005)   (3:13)   
This is the first of four improvisations exclusively featuring the delightful Yin bowl spiral. There were 42 laid out and here we open ourselves up to their wonderful world of shimmering harmonics in richly textured sonic clouds (derived from the microtonal intervals of this collection) whilst leaving them plenty of space to work their sound magic. This matchless assortment of bowls, collected over more than 20 years, produce a remarkably beautiful, rare, and unique sonic experience. No electronics are used - what you hear is totally produced by these instruments alone. 
 
#9    Living by the Light of Love.   (13-1-20045)   (5:37)
The 6 Bhutanese Yang bowls are here further joined by two Sacral Chakra bowls all positioned between the two spirals of bowls (23 Yang Bowls on the listener's Left and 42 Yin bowls on the listener's Right). The two deeper bowls mixing in with the buoyant harmonics of the Bhutanese bowls here providing a heartfelt warmth underlying the foreground dissimilarity between the Yang and Yin bowl families that yet work together in this improvisation.

#10    Singing Bowl Temple.   (15-1-2005)   (3:03)  
 A total improvisation upon a selection of 65 Singing bowls. A special antique bowl is here used to provide a central focus upon the experience of intensely deep listening.
 
#11    Monastery in the Mountains.   (12-1-2005)   (8:10)
The Yang and Yin bowl families are here joined by a small set of Chinese Qing (sometimes called Buddha Bells). The sound characteristics of the Chinese Temple Bells produce another timbre alongside the contrasting Yang and Yin bowls.  
 
#12    Golden Rain.   (14-1-2005)   (3:02)
A delightful sequence using only Yin bowls. By and large these are of the Manipuri variety. There were 42 laid out and their microtonal intervals are explored whilst leaving them plenty of space to work their sound magic. This was the fourth and final improvisation. No electronics are used - what you hear is totally produced by these instruments alone.  
 
#13    Milarepa's Secret Language of the Mountains.   (12-1-2005)   (4:49)
The 34" PAISTE Symphonic Gong here enters the dialogue between the two contrasting bowl families of Yin and Yang.   
 
#14    Metals Singing of Divine Fire.   (15-1-2005)   (7:59)  
A total improvisation upon a selection of 65 Singing bowls rich in overtones and exploring their harmonic relationships. The spiritual sound qualities of a 13th century singing bowl here provides the focus for this improvisation arising from the realm of divine fire.
 
 


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