brian capleton


rim tone and strike tone




Headphones Essential!

(turn your volume down first!)

Below is the same small, high-quality Tibetan bowl that was introduced here:


The first three distinct partials that can be heard independently are:

1st partial:

2nd partial:

3rd partial:

Singing bowls are commonly played by rubbing a stick around the perimeter, which acoustically excites the bowl by friction, in much the same way as a bow does, on a musical string. The rim tone of this bowl sounds like this:

You'll notice the change in the tone at the end, which is when the stick is released from the bowl. Then, the bowl is free to vibrate of its own accord.

The rubbing by the stick here, in this particular case, principally excites the 2nd partial, but you'll hear some 3rd partial also, from time to time.

Whilst the stick is in contact with the bowl, the vibration producing the sound is being driven by the stick. As soon as the stick is released, the bowl is left to vibrate by itself, and the partial continues to sound on. Now, though, the bowl vibration is also free to fall into its normal pattern with the theta brain-wave rhythm, or “beating”.

The sound produced by a bowl depends to some extent on how it is played. A change in technique of producing the rim tone can bring out an alternative partial, or perhaps make more than one partial sound.

When a bowl is struck, the strike tone, too, will depend on how, and where it is struck. The musical pitches of the partials, or their frequencies, are effectively fixed by being ingredients of the innate sound recipe of the bowl. That's determined by the physical properties of the bowl.

But the amount by which any of its sound ingredient are present in its sound, depends on how the bowl is struck or rubbed. Even whether or not a partial produces a beating rhythm, can be affected by how and where on the bowl, the bowl is struck. This is explored here.

© Brian Capleton 2016
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