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.

One response to “Cymbal Baths

  1. Robert H Andreo

    Hello, Matt,

    I want to thank and commend you for the indescribably beautiful Oct 21 Third Life Studio performance. I was awed and mesmerized by the vast range of sounds from your bowed chime instrument. To describe the music as meditative is accurate, but understatement. One must hear it to experience it.

    I noticed that the early part of the performance had an underlying (to me) 3/4 or 6/8 meter which I experienced as deeply calming (after my long drive from NH). Later, I discerned a transition from 3/4 to 2/4 or 4/4, and then toward the end, a return to 3/4. The variety of frequencies and harmonics was fascinating, as was the drone effect.

    Such a beautiful instrument.

    I sense that your performances are deeply personal experiences. Your website (excellent website) describes bow chime performance as a type of walking meditation. As a meditator for more than 40 years, I can fully appreciate that.

    I am intrigued by your microtonal work. That opens vast new artistic possibilities beyond the chromatic scale. I will definitely be purchasing your albums.

    I wish you continued success in your fine career, Matt, and I hope to hear you perform again.

    Robert H. Andreo

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