A Short History
Sounding Bowls first appeared to Tobias Kaye during an evening meditation in 1986, unexpected and simple, the image was nothing more than a wooden Bowl with a string inside. But simple ideas in the right hands have the potential to become things of greatness and with Tobias’ lifelong passion for sculpting bowl forms it is no wonder that the image has developed into what it is today.
“When I first began turning bowls in 1978 I found the process so satisfying that everything else went by the wayside. All my creative energy went into exploring bowl forms; the curve of the wall became the poem, the song of the bowl’s presence. For me the bowl is an allegory of the human soul with its inner space, it’s rim or face it projects to society and a partially seen and known, partially unknown under surface that connects it to the natural world it stands in.”
A time of investigation into the stringed bowl began with the pursuit of both visual and acoustic harmony as the theme to unite the whole process. Deep and narrow bowls, wide and shallow, small and large rimmed all added their suggestions. This pursuit resulted in discovering a family of acoustic curves that allow for tones and resonances within the bowls that are full of expressive sound. The development of the Sounding Bowl is certainly testimony to the words of Prof David Pye,
“A form either sings where it stands or is forever silent.”
Early Sounding Bowls mostly went to art collectors and public exhibitions as an extension of Tobias’ previous work in sculpture. In 1991, the National Health Service bought a Sounding Bowl for use in a hospice pioneering music therapy in palliative care and the recognition of the Bowls shifted from being sculptural to instrumental. It became apparent that the reflective nature of the acoustic curve, the tactile beauty and harmonious sound could touch deep aspects of those who played, heard or even saw, offering an instinctive mirror of their fullest self, beauty and potential. From that point onwards the Bowls continued to break bounds in the therapeutic arts and professional work of music therapists, doctors and healers. As well as making music in the hands of people who’d previously believed they were “just not musical.”
Five Sounding Bowl designs grew up during the 90’s whilst Tobias continued to develop and refine the technical requirements for having the string inside the bowl; a concept that is unique in the history of world instruments. Then in 2008 a new string pattern arose following a request from a German museum for an instrument that was “bigger and different to anything so far.” A sixth design, the Bridging Bowl, was thereby developed and continues to be the only instrument in the world with two sets of overlaid string fans.
Today the workshop is a place where Sounding Bowls are commissioned and hand made to order by our specially trained craftsmen. They experience daily satisfaction as they balance the needs of precise craftsmanship with the delicacy of music; creating new ever better Sounding Bowls with care, sensitivity and skill. The vision of creating forms that lead people to a place of inner harmonious awakening continues to lead us forward.