What is a „Yueh Ling“
Yueh Ling is chinese end means as much as "Moon Bell". Yueh Ling Bells are ideophonic Soundsculpures, made of steel.
They consists of one central note, wich is the tonic of a mostly pentatonic or hexatonic scale with seven tone fields around the steel-corpus.
Variables, like the form of the tonefields, convex, concave shapes, tension, the material used, the amount of tonefields, the form of the shell, the tuning of the partials... all this has a profound impact on the final sound, and there are for some questions different ways of solution, which offers a wide range for the personal signature of each Bell.
Very soon after encountering this Instrument-Type it went clear, that I wanted to connect my profound fascination for the old chinese culture, philosophy and art with my new fascination for handpans.
The result of this fusion are Moon – Bells / Yueh Lings
The Way of Art - Yueh Ling Moon Bells
Yueh Ling (Moon-Bells) are handcrafted instruments by a small, one man manufacture. My aim is to keep art as close as possible to nature and simple, which is by far not the same as "easy"!
For this reasons as few machines and technological tools as possible are used in the creation-process of Moon-Bells and the materials used are as natural as possible.
I don´t see this as lack of evolution or progress, but as a dedication to the spirit of the material, and the connection that emerges between the material and my hands as they unite in the process of creation.
For this reason Yueh Ling Instruments do not use tonefiel-pressing molds & machines which are often used today and no highly nitrated steel, a product of a very energy consuming and un-ecological toxic process which, in the daoist attitude & sense of Yueh Ling, is not acceptable.
Yueh Lings are created with simple tools, hammers, steel, leather, urushi-laquer, balsamic turpentine, and are fired and hardene in real wood-fire.
All this is very time consuming, but much more elementar and archaic, than electrical ovens, ammonic-gas, pneumatic hammers, mold-pressing-machines, and electronic tuning devices.
I am not jet a master of this way, and Yueh Ling Instruments are not perfect. But I keep practicing and refining.
It´s quite the same as it is with painting...no matter how far you have come – the goal is one step ahead.
So I am creating, and I love what I do. For „ the laws of music and painting are the same ones...“.
In buying my instruments you are supporting my way, and natural-near hand crafting, for which I am very thankful.
I believe this attitude will manifest in the material, in the sound and at least in your self, playing a Yueh Ling.
Chinese Sound - Systems
One of the most significant things about Moon-Bells is that they are mostly tuned in the ancient chinese sound-systhem and mostly pentatonic and hexatonic scales, which enables the integration into the complex philosophy and mythology of Daoism.
This means some differences to the regular european tuning systhem, I will explain here:
european tuners, if they use some kind of tuning device with regular setup, mostly tune on reference tone a` = 440 Hz.
This tone is internationaly standard for tuning. It is used by most instruments, as well as electronic devices and was established internationally, around WWII. In sooner times, there were different reference tones, like also 432 Hz, or even 415Hz.
There are several theorys about different effects of the reference tones, which are discussed controversy, and I will not mention here.
However, in ancient china ( and often today ) A was not used as reference tone, but a tone nearly our western "F". Moon-Bells are tuned freely at the base of this f`= 174 Hz
Also here, the ancient chinese way was a different one, of creating the tone-ladder of 12 „yu", which I quickly explain here:
Starting from reference tone F, which is called the „sound of the yellow bell“ there are 12 steps in the ladder, which is similar to the european systhem. The difference is the way these tones are created, so that they are not exactly matching the european systhem.
These 12 tones are seperated into 6 Yang – which means as much as „masculine“ and 6 Yin - „feminine“ tones.
The first tone, F is a Yang tone. It moves up an exact ! quinte and becomes a woman,
a tone nearly our C, a Yin tone. The Yin – tone C is moving down an exact! quart, and becomes a Yang tone nearly our european G. This G again is moving down etc...
Of course this harmonic perfection sooner or later leads to imperfect octaves, because of the „pytagoräean comma“ which is the problem of the principal unability to unite harmonic perfection in quinte and octave-steps.
However, Moon-Bells, as most other Handpans, are just consisting of 8 tonefields. So the range of most melodys played is within one or two oktaves, where the Pythagoräean comma is not a problem.
Because of this and other reasons, I decided for perfect Quintes and the traditional chinese Music-Systhem, for Moon-Bells.
More about the philosophy behind Moon-Bells - a daoist point of view
According to the „Spring & Autum of Lü Bu We“, one of the old chinese classics, as well as to the books of changes, the „Zhou Yi“, music was integrated into the complex systhem of daoist mythology and philosophy.
It is this daoist philosophy my Moon-Bells are focused on.
For a short overview of the asociated elements have a look at the following chart.
For more questions about this, just send me a mail via the contact formular.
Notice that the chinese months are not the same as the european ones, for they use a Luni-Solar Calendar, and that the european Notes written here, are just more or less the chinese tones.
Urushi - The ancient Lacquer
Urushi is a pure natural lacquer which is harvested from the chinese lacquer-tree.
Its purely material-value is higher than silver, for the price per gram is between gold & silver.
The applied value however is much higher, for the technique of Urushi is what you could call the "crystallization of time".
Whit all these attributes, it still is purely organic, and has a un-reached fascinating soft haptic and beauty which is not comparable to synthetic Laquer or the inorganic feeling of nitrated steel.
There are dozens of techniques for applying Urushi in Japan and China, and reaching a state of mastering this mystic material is not just a question of months, but of years and decades. Of course, I am far away of a mastery, but I definitely keep practicing and going.
By the way, Urushi fits perfectly to the sound and does not mute the instrument - more than this, it is integral part of the sound signature of Yueh Ling - Moon Bells
At least. DAO-Bells are considered to be artworks, not instruments in the sense of instruments for the creation of reproducable tones, according to standartised systhems.
As artworks, I trie to give every one of them individual personality and quality.