(Auroville News and Notes, 21 March 2009)
In December 2007, a unique musical instrument, a very special gift of Russia appeared in Auroville. Born out of strong aspiration to express the Beauty and Harmony in sound, the plate bells created by Russian bell master Alexander Zhikharev may very well be called the forerunner of the “new family” of musical instruments designed for playing the music of vibrations. The uniqueness and power of the sound come from the perfect integration into a single metal plate the laws of harmony inherent in Nature. Each bell plate being a separate musical instrument is at the same time perfectly tuned with all the other plates. And that provides incomparable possibilities for intuitive experiments, individual as well as collective. Silent listening to the sound is enough to open the door to inner harmony. And then the music is born, right on the spot, spontaneously, music not pre-composed and pre-rehearsed, guided only by the inner conductor.
This rare instrument, presently called “The Russian Singing Bells”, has a few distinct features that Auroville explores. People, who come to the open bell sessions, share their experience of playing the instrument: “Beautiful combinations of sounds, rich, resonant, almost healing – a meditation with sound” (Rajan) “It was just like moving into dreamland… The peace made by the sound of this unique instrument pours a spiritual happiness into me” (Anand) “It is a very flexible way of expressing oneself. The more one expresses through the bells, the more the way opens before oneself. It is a kind of invitation from the Unknown” (Ramanarayana) “Aum, the vibrations connected to the heart. May be an instrument of self-knowledge, the mystic sound brings harmony into the soul” (Pierre) “Seems like new dimensions are opening when the vibrations start. This instrument has something magic…” (Pau) “The sound of the Russian bells resembles music of the soul. Their way of vibrating helps us to transcend space and time. Also it is probably the music that can touch all cultures” (Ananda) “This instrument gives the great possibility to create links between people. A kind of spiritual connection through the sound of the bells. No words, no eyes, no touch between players… Only sound… (Timothee) “In the beginning there was the word, Om, the universal sound… The sound of the bells is profound, deep and universal… They resonate deep inside our souls. I am sure they will help us to achieve human Unity by getting us closer to the divine universal sound…” (Luna)
The journey of the Bells in Auroville started in the end of December 2007 with several public concerts, including the ones in the Amphitheatre and in Sri Aurobindo Ashram. In February 2008 they actively participated in Auroville’s 40th anniversary celebration, serving as a true instrument for uniting people of different nations for a collective action. Then gradually the instrument started finding its proper place in Auroville life: inviting for inner silence before meditations, accompanying theatrical performances, poetry readings, offering programs for children and solo programs. The journey just begins and there are many more things to be explored about this instrument and its applications in self-studying, self-development, healing, tuning with Nature and collective tuning.
The bell master continues his search for the “heavenly sound” with a growing inspiration and experiments with new materials for the plate bells: wood, stone, glass, different metals. He is especially interested in big – human height – plate bells, which give very deep, penetrating and long resonating sound rich in overtones and can produce pure sound for more than 10 minutes. He is also ready to work on creating a special sound for Auroville.
Alexander’s instruments are unique even for Russia, but still Russian travelers who happen to hear these bells ringing in Auroville immediately recognize in the sound something very near to their hearts and say: “I can hear the voice of Mother Russia”. The proper place for his instruments Alexander sees in a specially designed acoustic theatre, where listeners would be actually immerged in the musical vibrations. Who knows, maybe this long-cherished dream would eventually find its realization in Auroville?
I would like to express my gratitude to the bell master Alexander Zhikharev for creating such an amazing beauty and to all the people who helped to bring this beauty to Auroville and keep inspiring and supporting this endeavour. Heartily welcome to the open bell sessions in the Unity Pavilion, Tuesdays and Sundays, 4.30-6.00pm.
Vera Lipen, Russian Pavilion