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Exploring the Significance of Daniel's 'Quartz Crystal Bells': A Classic Album in the World of Sound Healing and Meditation

Posted by Jeff Howard on 28th Apr 2023

Daniel – Quartz Crystal Bells is a unique album that features the sounds of quartz crystal singing bowls. This album is thought to be the first recorded use of frosted crystal singing bowls. Released in 1988, this album is a classic in the world of sound healing and meditation music. In this review, we will explore the album and its significance in the world of sound healing. Daniel from Daniel – Quartz Crystal Bells is Daniel Lauter. Daniel Lauter, aka MeditationDJ, is an Integrative Sound Specialist, is a multi-instrumentalist, classically trained musician; one of the first in the US to pioneer the experiential composition and transformational qualities of crystal bowls, in Sound Journeys, and produced their first digital recordings. He is the musician who recorded the album live on a set of twelve quartz crystal singing bowls between 8" and 18" in diameter. Donna Soszynski and Kim Atkinson also played the bowls on the album.
Before Daniel Lauter and his wife Donna moved to Larkspur in 1983, Lauter primarily played in funk bands, including the short-lived RX who released one album before dissolving in a clash of egos. But upon his arrival there, it wasn't long before Lauter got into meditation, crystal bowls, sound baths, and all things new age.
Lauter had a long history with music prior to that, growing up in Seneca Falls, NY and getting acquainted with many instruments before middle school. He started out playing clarinet in school band, but also took up the saxophone, guitar, and bass. He later attended SUNY Purchase to study at the music conservatory and later graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute.
Upon their arrival in SF, Donna wanted to start an art gallery and the couple decided to give it a shot. The space, called Modern Rites/Ancient Waves, became a gathering spot and performance space for locals like Steven Halpern, Constance Demby, Karma Moffett, Bernard Xolotl, Margo Anand and more. Through the store, Lauter met a friend who introduced him to crystal bowls and Lauter took an obsessive interest in them. He also realized their commercial potential and became a distributor for the bowls in the area to many like-minded new age shops and music retailers.
Lauter recorded his first cassette, Quartz Crystal Bells with Xolotol at his home studio. Lauter recalls Xolotl as a brilliant engineer and the only person he knew who could handle the challenge of recording such quiet instruments. (He also recalled Xolotl's erratic working habits and knack for disappearing in his studio for weeks on end.)
Once the album was done, Lauter pressed 250 copies with a black and white cover and sold them through Lloyd Barde's Backroads catalog as well as at his shop. He did a second run in 1988 with a different cover.
Lauter recorded another album with the bowls in 1987, called Spirits of Passion. Like the debut, this album is now very rare. Lauter's final album was a collaboration with Suru Ekeh in 1991. This came out on CD only. Daniel continued to work as a sound healer, which he still does today. Lauter now lives in New York.
The album is a classic in the world of sound healing and meditation music and is known for its soothing and calming sounds. Daniel Lauter has continued to make music and perform sound healing sessions, and he is considered to be one of the pioneers of the sound healing movement. He is known for blending symphonic gong, exquisite quartz and Himalayan bowls, enchanted Columbian ocarina, Aboriginal Yidaki (didjeridu), North Indian, and other world instruments.
The album "Quartz Crystal Bells" is classified as belonging to the New Age and Ambient genres. The album features three tracks that are each about 10 minutes long and a longer piece at near 30 minutes to finish out the album. The sounds of the quartz crystal singing bowls are soothing and calming, and they help to create a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.
The first track, "If Trees Could Talk” Shows excellent use of the stereo field with well spaced instruments being percussively played rhythmically over a background of quite droning rim sung bowls. The rhythm is gentle and allows space for the droning rim sung bowls to fade in and out of the sonic space. The slowly shifting tones are quite relaxing and the middle of the track spaces out into interactions between a couple of rim sung bowls. The sounds are harmonious and allow for the listeners attention to be captured easily. The percussive elements tastefully return toward the end of the track and a sweet rhythm takes over as the focus of the track, pushing the drone sounds of rim playing back into the stereo picture. This movement back and forth between the playing styles is incredibly welcoming.
The second track “Beneath MT. Tamalpias” fades in with a lower octave bowl as the drone while higher tones are blended in. Warm intervals create movement within the blended tones and even the scratchy playing sounds seem to bring charming audio artifacts of its own to the blend of tones. The larger, deeper bowls appear to be used as a foundation to create movement while the higher sounds hang in the air. Wonderful rhythmic elements give the track a light and uplifting feel. The rhythmic portion is well played with a great pattern anchoring the gamelan like qualities of this track over a slowly rising and falling drone that completes the sonic picture.
The third track “Dance With The Masks” begins with another rhythmic passage. Lightly struck crystal singing bowls create the effect of a chorus of bells. The echoing and cascading tones are the basis of the rhythmic drone, while the simple pattern becomes mesmerizing to the listener with increased exposure. The rhythmic element runs through the entirety of this track, giving it and upbeat and active feel.
The fourth track “Bells Of The Earth” is an immediate shift from the active third track. Opening with a very gentle drone, the playing is noticeably slower and intentional. This track is a grand example of how gently shifting drone is incredibly peaceful and relaxing. The tones slowly blend from one to the next without jarring the listener or relying on any percussive elements other than an occasional rim chatter as the striker is pulled from the bowls rim.

In conclusion, Daniel Lauter's album "Quartz Crystal Bells" is a timeless masterpiece and a cornerstone of the sound healing and meditation music genre. The album features the first recorded use of crystal singing bowls and demonstrates Lauter's skillful use of these instruments to create soothing and calming soundscapes. Lauter's background as a classically trained musician and integrative sound specialist allowed him to pioneer the experiential composition and transformational qualities of crystal bowls. His contributions to the world of sound healing are invaluable, and his music continues to touch the lives of many. "Quartz Crystal Bells" remains a must-listen for anyone interested in sound healing and meditation music, and it serves as a testament to the transformative power of music.
Daniel Lauter's music can be found on Insight Timer, All About Jazz, and his personal website. He has also released several CD albums that have received international airplay.