What is a Parabolic Orchestra?

playing the bowls in morning mist

An ensemble of ceramic singing bowls!

Parabolic Orchestra is an orchestra of bowls rather than of musicians, each bowl being an instrument in itself with it's own character and particular voice. The bowl ensemble offers many possibilities in combining different moods and qualities of sound.

In 2015 a group of friends started getting together regularly to try and invent techniques and elaborate a repertoire to play an instrument that no one had ever heard of before.

The bowls only sing after they've been fired.

The sound produced by the bowls is the result of many different elements, among them is a particular combination of clay and glaze. The black glaze being of particular importance. The shape forms the voice of the bowl, the dimensions, depth, diameter and also the thickness are what will determine the pitch or frequency. The actual note is only revealed once the bowl is fired. At that point nothing more can be altered.

hands playing bowls

Since then Parabolic Orchestra has evovled and changed as any living thing and developed a sound somewhere between meditative jazz and contemporary improvisation and sometimes gives concerts in unique architectural or natural environments.

listen on soundcloud
watch on YouTube

The ceramusicians

Parabolic Orchestra playing

Gaël Delrieux. Parabolist from the very beginning, bringing his electro influences
Brice Lambert. The subtle memory of a melodic watchmaker.
Stanislas Marchel. Poet of the bass and inspired improvisationist.
Laurent Merchant. Luthier in clay, guitarist and parabolist in chief.
Aldert Van Peten. Master of the cajon and guardian of the pulse.

A unique instrument

the singing bowl table

The singing bowls that compose Parabolic Orchestra are entirely handmade by Laurent Merchant, thrown in white stoneware they are glazed in black then reduction fired in a gas kiln at 1300°C.

The making of the singing bowls requires much dexterity and a mastery of the art of throwing still, the ceramic process provides plenty of mystery and surprises.