Josef N. Wieland, an anthropology graduate student at the University of California, Irvine, shares some of his current research tracking global gemstone networks spanning from Brazilian miners to luxury consumers in southern California. This is the first of Josef’s tw0-part series on Sounds of the New Age.
I first encountered “singing crystals” at a gem and mineral show at a Holiday Inn in Santa Ana, California several years ago. I was among a group of crystal customers lingering in hotel room that had been converted to a metaphysical shop for the weekend.
“Wow, singing crystals,” a woman next to me read from a small paper sign next to a tray of small, slender Brazilian quartz crystals with a light pinkish hue. Picking up the crystals for the first time, I was surprised by the high pitched “clink” that they made when I rolled them around in my hand. It was oddly calming, almost cathartic. In New Age spiritual communities, singing crystals are thought to hold a powerful centering vibration that can help release creative energies. Some crystal healers jingle a few singing crystals in the palm of their hand during healing sessions, and others have suggested that the resonance of singing crystals can transform the body’s subtle energies during meditation practices.
During fieldwork at the Tucson Gem Show last month, I purchased a bag of random crystals, and upon opening the bag, I noticed that some of the crystals “sang” while others only thudded against each other. One friend explained to me that the temperature of formation and purity of the crystals causes them to resonate at a distinct frequency, but I am awaiting a gemologist to verify this!
In the video I have separated the singing crystals from the “regular” crystals. The sonic differences, in my opinion, are striking. While researching the global New Age quartz crystal market, I’ve tried to look beyond the use of sight, the most obvious sense employed in evaluating and categorizing crystals’ luster, shape, and color. Singing crystals are unique in that they invite a much different sensory engagement with quartz and its metaphysical properties. What can the resonance of these crystals tell us about the subtle role that sound plays in other global commodities, from designer electronics to luxury car engines?
Funny, I was just visiting my hometown and my mom remembered coming home one day when I was listening to this album of ‘really strange sounds’ and she couldn’t remember what it was but described it as ‘little piercing noises, like metal clinking together etc..’ I totally remembered that particular exchange, which was one of many as my musical tastes ran the gambit when it came to strange and unusual sounds. My mom often walked into some interesting listening sessions. Anyway, the album she was remembering was ‘Harry Oldfield: Crystals’ which was a ‘Current 93 presents’ release. I still have my original vinyl copy that I bought when it came out in 1990.
A brief clip:
An in depth article:
The article above is a pretty thorough explanation of the project and if you are really interested there are still copies out there though, the vinyl is pricy and there are none in the US but there are domestic dealers with cd versions:
I hope this helps with your studies!