Gongs, Handbells and Singing Bowls: Three Great Instruments For Exploring the Culture of China, Tibet, Nepal and Asia

Although the cultures and traditions in these regions are immensely diverse, they do have one thing in common.  About 4,000 years ago, craftspeople in this area of the world discovered how to work with bronze and similar metals.  They began creating useful and decorative objects and soon discovered that the perfect mixture of copper, tin and other available metals created amazing-sounding musical instruments as well.  Through a process of metal-smithing and working with molds, they learned to create gongs, bells, hand cymbals and even bowls that can “sing”.  Some master craftspeople even claim to use secret ingredients that give their creations unusually beautiful or “perfect” tone!

Here are some posts that can help you explore these unique musical instruments and use them as a part of your music-making, meditation (quiet time), cultural studies, homeschool or classroom fun.

——————————–

During the month of February 2013, we’re giving away a beautiful set of Tibetan handbells.  You can find that Rafflecopter give-away here:

http://www.dariamusic.com/monthly_song.php

Resources

Free One page download on a Handbell craft

http://www.dariamusic.com/crafts.php

Detailed pdf on Tibetan Handbells, Plus a Make-Your-Own Handbell Craft

From Teachers Pay Teachers

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Explore-Tibetan-Handbells-Plus-a-Make-Your-Own-Handbell-Craft

Make Your Own Tibetan Handbells – Blog Post

http://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/make-your-own-tingsha-handbells/

Make Your Own Chinese Gong Craft

http://www.dariamusic.com/crafts.php

Can A Bowl Really Sing?  Tibetan Singing Bowl Post

http://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/tibetan-singing-bowls-can-a-bowl-really-sing/

Related Resources

“Gong Xi! Gong Xi!” – The Excitement of Chinese New Year

http://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/gong-xi-gong-xi-the-excitement-of-chinese-new-year/

Sing, Play and Speak With Your Children In Chinese !

http://tinytappingtoes.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/sing-play-and-speak-with-your-children-in-chinese/

 

Make Your Own Tingsha Handbells

Most historians believe that about 4,000 years ago, craftspeople in the region around China began experimenting with metal and bronze. Although the region around China, Tibet, Nepal and Southern Asia is quite diverse, these countries share a common history of discovering and creating unique musical instruments made from metal such as gongs, bells, singing bowls and handbells known as tinghsa. Tingsha (also, ting-sha) are two small, rather heavy cymbals that are attached to a rope or piece of rawhide. They are usually about 2.5 to 4 inches in diameter and can be plain or have decorative images on them. Some have symbols such as dragons that are considered lucky or they may have mantras or other words or phrases that are a part of prayer or devotional practices.

Tingsha can be played in two different ways. Either the string is held and the two bells are allowed to strike each other or both cymbals are held and tapped together to make them ring out. Because the sound of tingsha bells is so beautiful and relaxing, they are often heard in the United States as part of

yoga or meditation practices.

MAKE YOUR OWN TINGSHA BELLS

Want to make your own version? Here is an easy project to create your own tingsha bells out of recycled materials.

SUPPLIES

Two matching bottle caps – “Snapple” caps work perfectly

String or yarn

Paint, textured paint or glitter and glue for decorating the handbells.

To make the hole in the bottlecaps:

A piece of wood (as a work area)

Hammer and nail or hammer and awl

Start by creating a hole in the center of each of the bottlecaps. You can do this by putting the bottlecap; outer side up, on a work surface (such as a spare piece of wood) and tapping it gently with a hammer and nail or use a hammer and awl.

Once you’ve created the hole, it’s a good idea to turn the cap over and tap it with a hammer to flatten the sharp edges around the hole. This makes it safer to handle when adding the string.

To decorate your two “cymbals”, you can paint or add textured fabric paint. You can also apply glue and glitter. When you’re done and they are dry, you are ready to string them together.

Thread the strong or yarn through each side and make a knot to hold it into place. Check that you like the length of your tinghsa and adjust the knots accordingly.

Play and have fun!