'The Gong' - It's History and Importance
Information and illustrations provided by Wayne Boyce - Gong Bath Presenter and Practitioner.
The gong is named after the sound it makes when struck. Multiple tones can be produced no matter what the gongs original pitch may be.
Every known culture has music. For generations we have sung and made music together. Creating a feeling of connection between people, the earth and rhythms of nature around us.
The deep psychological meaning attributed/attached to gongs with their indescribable sound have always played a prominent role. Belonging to one of the oldest and most important musical instruments within and around South East Asia. Their origins can be traced back to the beginnings of the Bronze age.
Research has shown four main development centres Burma, China, Annam and Java from which at least seven gong shapes and sound structures originate. gong making is/was a family tradition and passed from generation to generation. The art itself was veiled in a sense of magic and secrecy, as with many other metallurgy arts at the time.
“Gong makers believed that a gong could only succeed with the help of higher powers.”
An important element in the lives of people in many countries.
The Gong retains a special significance to this day. As a musical instrument the gong accompanied celebrations and funeral ceremonies. In certain rites the gong, can be used for the evocation of spirits.
In Asia the gong has been attributed to the wealthy and serves as a status symbol. It is also said that touching a gong brings you good fortune and strength. In the music of Asian high culture the gong is used as an orchestral instrument and theatre plays.
Some gongs are loud enough to be heard for many miles and used to signal events and warnings.
Within Buddhist culture the gong is still used today (as in the past) to start the beginning of meditation practice and to call group members to gather for important celebrations such as births, weddings and funeral ceremonies.
Gongs have only been in use in European orchestras since around 1790
The term “Tam-Tam “ is used for the flat or substantially flat surface which when struck vibrates in multiple modes, giving a "crash" rather than a tuned note, whereas 'bossed' gongs give a more tuned note.
The authentic terminology or original name in all regions, countries and languages use is “gong”.
They fall in to the musical family of idiophones, which is any instrument that creates sound primarily by the instrument as a whole vibrating without the use of strings or membranes.
Gongs are made of a bronze alloy,
This consists of approximately 75 percent copper, 20 percent tin and 5 percent nickel
The Paiste family have been making gongs for several generations. The ancient art of making rich sounding melodious gongs is still handed down to this day and continued at their dedicated factory in Germany.
Methods are used in today’s manufacturing process based on methods from the earliest times and consist of individual manual work. This is expensive and time consuming but a mechanized production of gongs would destroy their sound and could never replace the human touch.
PLAYING A GONG
Suspended Gong Stokes
Priming the Gong to awaken or activate the gong, by hitting it very softly in the centre to produce its fundamental tone. At this point one can also softly hum to connect with it.
Flam - using a mallet in each hand to create a double strike on the gong almost simultaneously with only a fraction of a second between each impact One can also use two thin-shafted mallets held loosely in one hand to create the same effect.
Slur- two or more strikes on different percussion points played as a single beat — skipping the mallet over the gong like a stone skipping over water.
Combination - two or more strokes played in association such as 3pm + 5pm or 3pm + 6pm positions.
Roll - a rapid playing on the gong with two mallets simultaneously in a circular motion — a bit like swimming with a long overhead stroke or hitting the gong with two mallets held horizontally as though one was treading water.
Muffling - stilling and dampening the sound by moving the mallet against gong's surface.
Hand Held Gong Strokes
Gong with the Wind - striking the gong on the away swing allowing it to move air swinging backwards and forwards. This is good for clearing.
Shaking Gong -strike gently and then shake the gong back and forth like shaking and lifting a rug creating a carpet of air. This has a levitation-type effect on the recipient.
Twisting Gong - strike the gong and twist in a complete circle using the wrist, first one way then the other. This can break up the magnetic field, opening up the aura to release unwanted energy debris.
Pendulum Gong - strike and allow the gong to swing like a clock pendulum from side to side. This can balance the left and right brain.
DO NOT STRIKE THE GONG NEAR THE EARS!!
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