Frank Perry

Sound Travel Journal

by Frank Perry

This article first appeared in Watkins Mind Body Spirit #38, Summer 2014.

This article first appeared in Watkins Mind Body Spirit #38, Summer 2014.

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] began playing percussion in the spring of 1964 in my final term at secondary school, but in 1968 I moved into totally improvised music – known variously as avant garde jazz, free-form group improvisation, or free music. In 1968 I bought my first gong and in 1971 I received my first three singing bowls and two kyezees (Burmese bells) – all antiques. From meditating with the kyezees, I found that one worked on my heart chakra. This came as a pleasant surprise as up to then I never would have expected sacred ancient instruments to affect one of the chakras directly.

Then in 1973 I received a most treasured gift – a twelfth-century Tibetan ding-sha. Hearing it for the very first time (played by the visiting yogi from Tibet) proved to be a very dramatic, deeply spiritual experience for me. I saw with my inner vision a release of very powerful blue-white light synchronous with the sounding. Around this period of my life I became aware that an ancient discarnate Tibetan (pre-Buddhist) was drawn to work with me by raising my conscious awareness into the multidimensional world of sound. And so it was that I came to experience the effects of my percussion instruments upon several planes of being (etheric, astral, mental and beyond).

Frank Perry's ting-sha

Frank Perry’s ting-sha

In a similar way I already had a number of both antique and new singing bowls from China, Japan and Burma when, from 1981 onwards, I began to find more and more Tibetan Singing Bowls (as they were called at that time) and some of these were very potent magical ritual instruments. For example, one of these rarer bowls Alain Presencer calls the Panic Bowl and it can be used for exorcisms. Certain of them had been used (and, on account of their sound characteristics, so could others) for precise spiritual purposes along the lines of healing or meditation. Alain and I presented together and also swapped instruments.

'Song of the Mountain Waterfall' Bowl, cymatic photograph (John Stuart Reid)

‘Song of the Mountain Waterfall’ Bowl, cymatic photograph (John Stuart Reid)

Some of the subtle qualities, though rooted in the sounds of such rare potentised bowls, exist beyond the physical sound of each bowl. They can then be comprehended via a number of other disciplines – such as can be found within astrology. Many terms in use today (‘chakra bowls’, ‘planet bowls’, ‘fountain bowls’, ‘master bowls’, ‘yin’ or ‘yang’ bowls) are ones I myself originated, early in the 1980s, in the course of sharing my findings during workshops. My new book, Himalayan Sound Revelations, provides me with an opportunity to communicate the original meaning I gave those terms and to share further information in a far more direct and undiluted way.

In the book, by explaining these several terms alongside others not yet in general use, I believe I can help us discover deeper levels of teaching in our bowls. For instance, in the chapters on planet bowls, chakra bowls, and on the elements, we may discover if our bowls can be found to resonate with one of these five elements, planets or chakras. Out of this there grows a manner of working with the bowl much deeper than merely playing it. In a small way, I believe, this is something of a revolution in the way we work with sound.

My rather unusual approach to working with sound arises from my spiritual path and the fortune to have things like a very good ear. Out of it an unusual sound universe has unfolded that I wish to share with others. Much of the information is quite original and unique to this book. Something else I have sought to offer for the first time in the book is the beautiful photography that arises when through the technique of cymatics the sound patterns that are created can be recorded. One such photo is illustrated, for which I thank John Stuart Reid.

'Silver Ritual' Bowl, showing strong evidence of silver mineral content (Raphael Perry)

‘Silver Ritual’ Bowl, showing strong evidence of silver mineral content (Raphael Perry)

Having sorted through thousands of bowls in the forty years I have been in the field, I have catalogued around 270 different types in the book, with 100 of these being related to the form of the bowl.  Another section categorises the sound characteristics of different bowls and the super-physical or spiritual qualities that I have found to exist. I’ve included 25 exercises to develop awareness. Around 60 advanced playing techniques also feature plus acoustical sound analysis of certain bowls to demonstrate their harmonic structure. The uniqueness of that structure is maybe the most important thing that comes out of working with bells, because it is in that very uniqueness that each bowl itself provides a pathway to the higher worlds.

 Meet the Author: Frank Perry is a leading expert in Tibetan singing bowls. He is a composer, performer, astrologer, artist, and healer and has invented musical instruments that are part of his set up which is made up of 100’s of percussion instruments, including gongs, bells, bowls, and metalophones. Part of the soundscape/healing music scene since 1968, Frank continues to dedicate his life to his music and spiritual beliefs and has influenced musicians such as Keith Tippett, Alex Cline and Tim Wheater. His recordings include Deep Peace and New Atlantis.

HIMALAYAN SOUND REVELATIONS: The Complete Singing Bowl Book by Frank Perry, published by Polair Publishing, Illustrated Paperback (500 pages)

HIMALAYAN SOUND REVELATIONS: The Complete Singing Bowl Book by Frank Perry, published by Polair Publishing, Illustrated Paperback (500 pages)


Frank Perry will present his book ‘Himalayan Sound Revelations: The Complete Singing Bowl Book’ at Watkins on Wednesday, June 19, at 5.30-6.30pm. 

“No other book in the field of working with sound for healing and spiritual development is as knowledgeable, penetrating and comprehensive as this.” –  James D’Angelo

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