THE MODERN GONG

THE GONG

The gong is the portal between the finite and the infinite. Traditionally it has been a bronze disc, crafted to produce desired frequencies and these can both entertain and entrain us.


 

TYPES

This essay relates with the metal alloy idiophones that are:

 

Tuned gongs where the note is either tuned according to the calculations of Hans Cousto, or to Western and Eastern music scales.

 

and

 

Symphonic gongs where the fundamental note of the gong is balanced with the instrument's complex overtones.

 

In this family of gongs, there are handheld and suspended gongs and among either of these categories are subdivisions that include the chau gong, nipple or boss gong, wind gong and there are also wooden, china and bowl gongs, this is not an exhaustive list.

 

IN THE BEGINNING

The “bronze gong”came into being around 3500 years ago. There is the possibility that the gong evolved as a result of metals melting from stones in the walls of bread ovens, trickling down to the bottom of them and forming discs that would have eventually cooled and been a very curious object. This would indeed have been a very special event as the ores for copper and tin, upon which bronze is based, are rarely found together.

 

Gongs were used in a variety of ways. Often they were used for ceremonial duties along with dance and theatre performances. Sometimes gongs were struck to announce the arrival of an important dignitary, with the number of strikes determining who was the most important and who should get out of the other’s way. There are also reports of them being used to communicate with workers in the fields.

 

Burma, China, Java and Annam were the four main gong manufacturing centres of the ancient world and gong manufacturing reached a zenith around 2/3000 years ago in China. China, especially in the province of Wuhan, still produces large quantities of gongs and tends to smelt their own alloys, bronze being a mixture of copper and tin.

 

THE MODERN GONG

Now, manufacturing varies widely in location and quality with several centres in Germany leading the way in terms of quality according to Phil McNamara. Western gong manufacturers do not smelt their own metal, they buy blanks which are then worked into gongs. Other alloys and metals are also being used to produce gongs, including steel; these are often called “sculptural gongs” and can have a variety of colours and require alternative cleaning and maintenance regimes compared with traditional gongs.

 

The modern gong comes in many forms, some not even completely round, as with Matt Nolan or Steve Hubback’s creations.
 

More precisely this essay is concerned with those gongs used in sound healing and  therapy. Some gongs are tuned to particular frequencies as calculated by Hans Cousto, while some gongs are symphonic  with a wider envelope of sounds.

 

COMPRESSION, DECOMPRESSION.

Modern life is bringing stresses to our minds and bodies that we have not had to deal with in previous generations. Life is being squeezed out of us and everything is being compressed:

Business has become compressed into a thread of emails,

Relationships squeezed onto social media,

Live performances compressed into podcasts and

Intimate relations compressed down chat lines.

And this stress is on top of what we already have to deal with, construction, demolition and the day and night movements of a vibrant city, which can make people feel they are being bombarded with stress-filled noise.

 

So we need to decompress in order to reduce this stress.

 

Stress reduction is one of the most important results of receiving sound therapy. Stress is the underlying cause of many physical conditions and it melts away with ease when you are bathed in a sea of sound healing vibrations.

Retuning our ears to listen to this noise as pure sounds, untainted by the associations we have come to put on them, helps to free us from the limitations of our mind and open us up to hear our surroundings as a symphony of collective vibrations and reduces our stress levels in the process.

 

​We hear a car and we may think of the pollution or an accident.

We hear shouting and we think trouble, perhaps danger.

We hear machinery operating at a frequency and tone whose vibrations overwhelm us.

We can try removing the associations we hold with sounds using Applied Listening techniques.


 

APPLIED LISTENING

Applied Listening is the practical utilization of listening; instead of passively listening to the sound of a gong we combine different disciplines, such as yoga with sound healing, to assist us solve problems and help advance the awakened mind.

 

Applied Listening involves:

  • Light energy exercises, such as meditation

  • Dense Energy exercises, including stretching, breathing and sound work

  • Mental Gymnastics involving brainwave entrainment and disassociation


 

Applied Listening increases awareness, it can lower stress levels and retune us, perhaps a better word for it is decompression.

 

By putting yourself in the bigger picture, in order to universalize yourself, Applied Listening leads to growth in health, spirituality and relationships.

 

We combine light and dense exercises in the example below:





 

APPLIED LISTENING EXERCISE

(It is easier if the eyes are shut.)

 

Take a moment to breathe, Breathing should be done first using the diaphragm rather than the lungs by themselves; taking air in through the nose and out through the nose.

 

Hear your breathing, your blood flowing, your vibrations, your own unique sound, the sound of the trees in the wind.

 

Now listen to the sounds coming from elsewhere.

 

You might hear a car horn, someone shout, children talking.

You might hear a bird in the tree by your window, a tractor or a plane go by.

 

Our aim is to isolate each sound and follow it back to its source.

Think of the beings behind these sounds, their homes, their families and friends, maybe even the dog that is waiting for its owner to return. Where have they come from? Where are they going?

Move onto the next sound and follow it to the source.

Move onto the next sound and follow it to the source.

Move onto the next sound and follow it to the source.

And so on.

 

Breathe in deeply.

 

Now open your eyes and strike the gong.

 

Exhale as you listen to the tones and overtones……...You are a player in a Cosmic Symphony

 

GOOD VIBRATIONS

 

Our predecessors knew the power of vibrations. Ceremonial chambers with undeniable acoustic design have been found dating back to the Bronze Age, and the ancient Greeks used flickering sunlight shining through a spinning wheel to inducing altered states through entrainment.

 

Brainwave entrainment is a method to stimulate the brain into entering a specific state by using a pulsing sound, light, or electromagnetic field. Entrainment synchronizes our fluctuating brainwaves by providing a stable frequency that the brain can follow.

 

Sound is vibration and so we can understand that we don't perceive sound only with the ears, but also with our body as the vibration of the gong touches us at a cellular level.

The pulses elicit the brain’s frequency following response, encouraging the brainwaves to align to the frequency of a given beat.

 

In those prone to epilepsy, a strobe flashing at their seizure frequency will entrain the brain to the flashing light, resulting in a seizure; this same frequency following mechanism is commonly used to alter brain waves in music and meditation.

 

Brainwave entrainment works for almost everyone. It is a great way to lead your mind into states that you might usually have difficulty reaching, allowing you to experience what those states feel like.

 

The tones of the gong transcend you as it mixes your left and right brain in synaesthesia and, as it wanes and entrains you back into the environment.


One session is good but regular and repeated gong playing can help with many health issues.

 

YOU MIGHT HEAR THE GONG WHEN YOU ARE NOT NEAR IT AND, LIKE A PARENT WHO THINKS THEY HEAR THEIR CHILD CRYING, YOU MAY HEAR THE GONG SOUND CALLING YOU….


 

RESONANCE TO BE CHEERFUL, Part One.

The Science Bit...

Striking the gong creates tones, then overtones. If there is more than one gong being struck then the gongs will also create combination tones and these can be at extra low frequencies (ELF’s). They may not be heard through the ears in the traditional sense but the body can feel them. More powerful tones will impose themselves on weaker tones and brain waves are shown, using electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors, to move into Theta (4-7.5Hz) or even Alpha (7.5-14Hz) states when listening to the sound of the gong; these are states for meditation, relaxation and healing. The entrainment works not just in the brain but at a cellular level in the body, we can see this using electron microscopes and it happens in humans, animals and even plants.

The sound of the gong goes to where there is trauma or pain and the gong sound waves have been shown to help with conditions such as stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, sleep disorders and muscle tension and physical pains. It is not just a musical instrument but a power tool for change.

RESONANCE TO BE CHEERFUL, Part Two.

Personal Testimony…

So the science is out there to prove that sound does have an affect on the mind and body, unfortunately so is a lot of New Age embroidery. I believe it takes a personal journey with the gong to see that it really does work. For example, my journey with the Paiste 38 inch Earth gong has been especially rewarding, having reactions from clients which were in direct alignment with the research and experience of others. Whether you believe in chakras or the calculations of Hans Cousto, or not,  I have seen it with my own eyes (and other parts of the body!) that this gong works and it is obvious that this gong has a fundamental note that corresponds with the original tone of Om. I have also witnessed the difference between using one gong and then two or more gongs to create combination tones and the reactions that occur because of them.

Perhaps the “secret ingredient” to the work with the gongs is that the gongs themselves seem to be alive. The gongs take time to build a relationship with their “gong master” and, indeed, with other gongs. They seem to have temperaments and behave differently on different days. The Chinese say a gong sounds best after at least thirty years so perhaps, like us, they have to grow up too.

LET THE GONG BE THE SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR LIFE...

GONG IN THE HOME

 

The gong used in the morning can be something to help with makeup, not for the visage but for the soul.

 

LET THE GONG BE THE SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR LIFE...

GONG IN THE OFFICE


 

You go to the gong like you would go outside to get a breath of fresh air.

Go to the gong without ego.


 

LET THE GONG BE THE SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR LIFE...

GONE GONGING

 

Travel with the gong, on tour like a backing band supporting the singer.

 

A gong, preferably a different gong, should be hit at 3hr intervals to help with the day’s meditative journey.

 

GONG MAKERS, GONG MASTERS,

Thank you for the inspiration:

 

SHEILA WHITTAKER, JENS ZYGAR, STEVE HUBBACK, MATT NOLAN,WALTER MAYER, ROLF NITSCH, TOOMAS PAISTE, RUDI BONNESS, SIEGFRIED JUSSEIT, BROEDER OETKEN, JOHANNES HEIMRATH, DANE RUDHYAR, CHRISTOPHER TREE, DON CONREAUX, MEHTAB BENTON, EILEEN DAY MCKUISICK, MITCH NUR, PHIL MCNAMARA, HANS COUSTO, DONALD E. SCOTT, KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN, MEHTAB BEMNTON


-GONG MASTER STRIKES-