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Beyond Bells: Instruments for the Holidays

Bells appear in abundance during the winter holiday season. With songs from Carol of the Bells to Jingle Bells hailing the chiming sounds and holiday sweaters everywhere featuring these jingling beads, bells are synonymous with celebration. But this year, we encourage you to expand the auditory experience this holiday and gift instruments and noise makers that will spread magnificent sound into the lives of those on your holiday gift list.

We begin with seed and pod instruments. Dried pods clatter against each other creating a twinkling soundscape that reminds us of the patter of rain. Without prolonged resonance, these percussive instruments cast a delicate but multitudinous rattling sound that's truly stunning. Tiny pods create a sparkling light sound while larger pods cast deep almost thunderous vibrations. We are especially fond of these togo seed shakers and kenari seed bunches, although there is an expansive world of seed and pod based instruments that you can explore!

For a more resonant sound, one can't go wrong with a singing bowl. This meditative metal instrument produces a deep pervasive sound and reverberates in encompassing waves that will blanket you. The experience is profound and physical. The bowls themselves create a range of pitches depending on the contours of the bowl so test a few to ensure you find the one that best suits your preferences.

Transporting us back to our childhoods, rainsticks are gorgeous Chilean instruments that are far too absent in our adult lives. Hollow dried cacti are pierced with cacti needles and filled with pebbles, beans, or other small objects. When the rainstick is inverted, the objects within it fall and bounce between the needles, producing a sound that's eerily reminiscent of rain. It's a soothing transportive sound that we can't get enough of!

Another meditative instrument is the chime woodstock. A simple metal chime is suspended with string over a block of wood. When struck, the chime creates a crisp metallic ring followed by a prolonged reverberation for a mellow aural aura. Because of its compact size and beautiful bell-like ring, a meditation chime is an outstanding tabletop instrument and a perfect gift choice.

Unlike the meditation chimes that need simply be struck once, casabas and shekeres requires a bit more energy to generate sound. The rows of metal beads on a cabasa produce a sandy almost scraping sound as they brush against the rippled metallic frame—like a rattling, gritty hushing. The West African shekere—the inspiration behind the contemporary cabasa—is a highly recognizable instrument featuring a hollow dried gourd surrounded by a beaded net that brushes and clatters against it. The sound produced is a gorgeous full bodied rattle as the vibration from the beads striking the gourd is allowed to resonate within the body of the instrument.

Almost everyone can appreciate a beautiful sound so why not broaden the auditory horizons of your loved ones by sharing instruments this holiday!


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