(Auroville, 20th March 2008)
‘Russian Singing Bells’, a recent invention and a gift to Auroville invites a play of consciousness with those it interacts. Here we have an instrument, perhaps the forerunner amongst instruments which provides a rich music and still does not demand from its player a very strict discipline and an eventual mastery of its outer forms.
Traditional bell has a sacred sense to it and such qualities. The difference here is that these plate bells as if allow you to be inside the traditional bell (in multiple bells at the same time, actually) and play various notes on them! Wider a bell is, its side per length-unit assumes less degree on an angular shaper. If you stand near a bell whose circumference is a few thousand meters, you will find its sides almost straight! Being flat, each of the rectangular Bell forms only one side and section of as if a very huge bell – the world!
It has a few distinct qualities that Auroville is exploring. It can be used to initiate silence! Just one or a few strikes on the bells are enough for that. One quality is when it descends with the children’s laughter and plays with our hearts as the spring waters play with mountains. Gentle and simultaneous tapping on the bells create this effect. Another quality is the melodious tunes, very much like a river that flows in twisted lines, repeating patterns, shrinking into itself and at times overflowing shores, freezing and melting and moving towards merger in the vast ocean. The quality that requires strong nerves and a heart of steel is when it invokes a great presence and manifests Power! Compare it with gigantic waterfalls; mighty rivers have this play in their share. This is produced with powerful and rhythmical strikes. It has also been observed that by combining powerful strikes, lion like roars and by prolonged poses between such resonant strikes the hush of oceanic wideness can be achieved.
It also has another feature which is perhaps its most unique contribution towards the coming age and that is its mystic meditative sounds. It has these lingering reverberations, which keep on playing around the note one strikes, its vibrant sound works with one’s body to evoke a response, its appeal awakens a depth to come into play. Because of this live and interactive vibes, having even a little knowledge of pursuing deeper levels of being one finds himself in the presence of a person who can carry his request, his contemplated and soul-perceiving strikes on the bell, home to further depths, as if descending or ascending on a staircase by gentle and firm steps, as if opening doors of inner world one after another. Mystic meditation music, occult ceremonial rhythms or deep delving into one’s being is achieved by this approach.
The instrument aspires for a free search and emphasises on experimentation and research. To the discerning player, it magnifies his inner state and amplifies its expression – a definite help in studying oneself. In addition it inspires movements towards unity and harmony. When the bell-ringers move around the audience, as was done on the 21st February 2008 in the Matrimandir Amphitheatre the effect is that of a diffused meditation.
This brings us to the ultimate feature of this instrument – its lending itself to multiple handling. One set of bells can have as many individual bells in it as one can imagine. Considering that the complete set consists only of one bell per note, for a set of five octaves it will still have 60 plates. Imagine 60 people trying to create music that was not rehearsed, that was not even composed earlier! When each person participates to create a harmony and a deeper unity, when higher states of consciousness are pursued and expressed, when all individuals and team participants play music as soul-mates and better still, as a single person, that is where the Bells find its fulfilment.
‘Russian Singing Bells’ is an expression of Mother Russia. It expresses mystic depth of Russia; its chimes radiate the Purity, Beauty and Power of Russian soul. It is housed at Unity Pavilion, inviting Aurovilians, friends and guests of Auroville to come and play music on it and experience the love, unity and harmony that is yet to manifest.
In Mother’s service, Ashesh Joshi
by Ashesh Joshi