Cymbal Baths

    The term ‘Sound Bath’ refers to a general method of curative practice and alludes to the relaxing, cleansing qualities of sonic meditative sessions. Thus, ‘Cymbal Bath’ is how I refer to these offerings via bowed cymbals.
     The instrument I use for this work is a custom-made, {modified} ‘Bow Chime’, based on a design by Robert Rutman. Through much exploration, I have honed a remarkably resonant and sympathetic assemblage of cymbals and tuned steel rods, and a playing style that effectively blends elements of the harmonic and drone traditions.SolstiCymbals0906    I am drawn to this work on the Bow Chime for a number of reasons. The experience first-hand as a practitioner is akin to a walking meditation, as full body awareness and mindful participation are essential. The Bow Chime possesses a harmonic language that is remarkably complex, and capable of perfect consonances as well as the most unresolved dissonances imaginable. This vocabulary far exceeds what is contained in the twelve-tone equal tempered octave, or any other tonal system defined by a finite number of scale degrees; as the language of the Bow Chime is an organic, self-governing pitch continuum. This vocabulary and quality of sonic self-determination is innately perceived; felt as well as heard, and demonstrates on a cellular level new ways to organize and resolve conflict. I believe this to be the heart of its therapeutic effect.
    The progression of the work is largely determined by acoustic properties within the instrument itself. Each component will either sympathize with or resist the rate of vibration of the rod or cymbal that receives the stimulation from the players’ bows, thus contributing to the timbre, resonance and progression of the energy. The acoustical sympathy between pitches is the primary organizational force, gravitating toward stable pitch relationships, whether they are consonant or dissonant.
    The practitioner’s objective during Cymbal Bath offerings is to induce an expression of sustained sound energy from the cymbals. The harmonic language and direction of each offering are based on the spontaneous response of the instrument. The practitioner’s role is to remain impartial and fully present, striving to interpret the sonic activity resulting from their influence, and listening for indications of how to modify kinetic input {via bowing}. Over time, a seasoned practitioner grows to recognize when sustained input is most appropriate, and when various fluctuations of energy transfer are more effective. Additionally, metric/periodic elements may be employed to acknowledge and support such cyclic activity as it presents organically in the composite sonic expression of the instrument.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s