My monochord¹ is a Feeltone Monolina in A. This is a 34 string monochord that is designed to balance easily and comfortably on the body for sound massage. It also comes with a set of 5 optional bridges which can be set to a pentatonic scale, thus allowing some extra melodic and harmonic possibilities.
I use the monochord for meditation and as a drone accompaniment to vocal improvisation and chanting. It is also one of the most popular instruments in my sound journeys.
¹Technically, a monochord is an instrument with one single string. However, homochords – multi-stringed instruments with all strings tuned to the same pitch – have also come to be known as monochords, particularly in the field of Sound Healing.
Of all the many different conch shell trumpets, the one I use the most is the syrinx. Its original owner, a syrinx aruanus sea snail, came from the largest snail species in the world and would have spent its days in the ocean somewhere between Northern Australia and Indonesia.
Gong Master, Don Conreaux, believes that the gong and the conch are “primal instruments that hold within them the secrets of the new age of healing through sound, and warrant a special place in the psyche of today’s researcher and practitioner.”¹ From my experience with the conch so far, I would say he’s on to something. The conch appears to be the Heineken of the sound healing world – it gets to the parts other instruments can’t reach. I certainly wouldn’t use it with everyone, but, when called for, the conch seems to be able to penetrate and dissolve very deeply held blockages like nothing else.
The sound of the conch is said to purify the surrounding air and enhances courage, determination, hope and willpower. It is also – like the gong – said to contain within it, the OM, the primal sound of the universe.
¹Magnus Opus of the Gong: Selected Essays Volume 1 by Don Conreaux
When struck or stroked around the rim, singing bowls produce a sound that is rich in harmonics. This sound has a penetrative effect on the human body, reaching as deep as our bones and cells.
Often called Tibetan or Himalayan bowls, singing bowls are also produced in Buhtan, India, Cambodia, Burma, Nepal, Mongolia, Thailand, Cambodia, Korea and Japan. Although many people believe that singing bowls are Buddhist in origin, it is likely that they pre-date Buddhism. Some, including the Dalai Lama, believe that they originated with a pre-Buddhist sect in Nepal and were used for fire-worship ceremonies. However, the finest bowls are said to have been produced in Tibet between 450 and 350 BCE.
Singing bowl expert, Frank Perry, says that bowls have been used for meditation, healing, ritual and as aids for spiritual practice. Still used for these purposes today, they are also introduced at the start of the Sound Journey to relax body, mind and spirit, ready for the sounds to come.
Bells and chimes are liminal instruments. Partly in the metallic world of their harmonically complex cousins, the gongs and singing bowls, and partly in the world of percussion instruments, bells and chimes are harbingers of change.
In the Zen tradition of Thich Nhat Hahn, bells of mindfulness are rung to wake people up. “When we hear one of these mindfulness bells ring, we stop whatever we are doing and bring our awareness to our breathing. The ringing bell has called out to us:
LISTEN, LISTEN. THIS WONDERFUL SOUND BRINGS ME BACK TO MY TRUE HOME.”¹
I use bells and chimes as part of the grounding or returning to everyday consciousness sequence at the end of a sound healing session. Bells and chimes are an especially effective segue from singing bowls and gongs into more earthy sounds such as seeds, grasses and wooden instruments.
In the following video you can hear tingsha bells, dumbbell chimes, bell shakers, bar chimes, Koshi chimes and Zen bell.
¹ The Community of Interbeing, How to Enjoy Your Practice: The Tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, nd