I have had a Tibetan Singing Bowl in my collection for quite some time now, but wasn’t sure whether it was worth putting into my collection. But I think it definitely deserves a place.
Tibetan Singing Bowls originated in India, and brought to Tibet by monks, more than 3,000 years ago. Monks used these bowls as part of their medidation practices during that time. Even nowadays, people use these bowls for meditation.
While you can make the bowls sing dry, you’d normally fill the bowl with water, almost up to the rim. Then using the mallet, you press against the rim of the bowl and move the mallet in a circular motion around the bowl. Once you hit the right speed, the bowl will start to hum. A lot of people find this hum very calming and relaxing, which is why it is part of a meditation ritual.You play it in a very similar as playing wine glasses.
Due to the strength of the vibrations of the bowl, you can usually feel it in your hands as well. Thus, they can have a particularly value to people who have impaired hearing as they can feel the sound that they are making.
Singing bowls comes in various sizes. The smaller the bowl, the higher pitch sound they make. They are usually made of brass or some other metal that sits in the class of “bell metals”. A bell metal is a metal alloy of copper and tin. As you can probably guess, they make great materials for bells.
I first found out about these bowl a few years back when a video of a bowl went viral. In that video, you could see water droplets jumping from the water’s surface as the bowl rung. They were essentially levitating on the surface.
This phenomenon is what got me interested in these bowls. After doing a little research, I managed to find some information on how this effect worked. The sound that the bowl makes when it “sings” is a vibration of the bowl. The thing is that this frequency is unique to that particular bowl. The frequency at which it vibrates is dependent on the shape of the object and its material. We call this frequency a “Natural Frequency”. All objects want to vibrate at that particular frequency.
When you play the bowl, it, too, vibrates at its natural frequency. However, you are still rubbing the bowl with the mallet, which means you are still transferring energy to the bowl. This energy goes into making the bowl vibrate harder. This makes the bowl sing louder.
But the energy has to go somewhere. Some of it is lost as sound, but the other part of it goes to the water inside the bowl. This makes the water vibrate as well. It creates a wave called a “Faraday Wave”. In essence, these waves occur when a constrained fluid vibrates. The constraint, here, is the boundaries of the bowl.
Due to the increasing amount of energy in the water, the water becomes unstable at some pount. It creates the fizzing effect as well as the chaotic waves in the videos. Additionally, drolets can end up bouncing around the surface of the water, very much like the Leidenfrost effect. However, the cause of this is the surface tension of water.
The Tibetan Singing Bowl, despite being old, can demonstrate some very interesting scientific phenomena. There is a lot to learn, but unfortunately, I might not be the best person to explain these phenomena in detail. But it is worth looking into if you’re interested.