The Richness of the Gong

Posted by on 2 Nov, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

 This is an article written by my colleague Helen Harris about Gongs. Helen is a sound therapist and reflexologist who lives in Edinburgh and I highly recommend her work. She is deeply passionate about Gongs and I recently asked her to  write something for me.  She studied with Gong Master Don Coreaux and with Lyz Cooper and I am really grateful that she gave promptly an article! This blog is a platform for other therapists too, to share their knowledge, views and experiences and I am happy to offer this space. Enjoy the article!

 The Richness of the Gong

The gong is one of the richest sounding instruments in existence, capable of producing a wealth of overtones and a long sustain. This richness is the result of the component metals and the processes used in making and shaping the gongs. Although the gong is thought by many to have originated during the Bronze Age in Mesopotamia (now parts of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq), the gong’s development and use is associated much more with the Far East. Here, it was used by ancient civilizations for a variety of purposes including healing rituals. Gongs were introduced to the West in the late 18th century when a few composers started to include a gong in some of their compositions. In the second half of the 20th century, they were being used by rock groups.

Far Eastern gongs are usually made of bronze, an alloy of copper and tin. Since the 1960’s, Paiste (Pie-stee), a German company, have extensively researched and developed the art of gong-making. They use a mixture of copper, zinc and nickel. Their particular combination of metals together with their highly skilled and elaborate manufacturing processes (primarily by hand) result in gongs that produce a range of fundamental tones and a vast array of overtones with longer sustains than the more ancient designs. 

In the 1980’s Paiste started producing Planetary Gongs that have a stronger fundamental tuned to a pitch based on the natural harmonic series derived from the orbital properties of the planets in our Solar system. These frequencies were calculated by Hans Cousto and documented in his book The Cosmic Octave: Origin of Harmony, Planets, Tones, Colors, the Power of Inherent Vibrations.

With one exception, the gongs I use are Paiste gongs, chosen to produce a rich envelope of healing sounds. They are:

24” Symphonic – my first gong. This has a more universal sound structure, being the type of gong originally designed for use in an orchestra. It produces a rich sound that builds layer upon layer and ultimately creates high eerie overtones.

32” Mercury (C#) – a powerful gong, producing a multitude of overtones that pack the sound space, beginning with deep rolling opening tones that continue to reverberate and can ultimately become overlaid with an angelic choir. The effect is exciting and stimulating. Mercury associates with intellect, communication and healing. 

Venus (A) – my gong with the highest fundamental pitch creating strong pulsations that become superimposed with gracious space-expanding overtones. Venus associates with love, relationships, artistic expression, and aspirations for harmony.

Sound Creation Earth (no strong fundamental) – has dark yet warm fundamentals that can be built into the impression of a gathering storm. A gong that demands respect with potentially ground shifting effect.

Sound Creation Moon (A) – sharp and very strong fundamental producing a dark bell-like tone with ringing highs and a very long sustain all with a strong pulsation that envelops and supports. 

And finally there is the 20” Wind (or Feng) gong (bronze) used to create a shimmering effect or highs similar to the clash of cymbals. I often use this to complement the roar of the Earth gong.

article by Helen Harris



One Comment

  1. I wish to thank you for sharing more knowledge of the therapeutic values of these different gongs. I love the Gongs and other means of sound healing facilitation and I know that as we deepen our understanding our clients and audiences receive a multiplied benefit. Including the increased ability to handle the stresses that show up in all our lives in these times.

    I also appreciate the description for the sounds because I am only in the past few years becoming a musician. In the earlier work labled sound healing we mostly focused on singular frequencies, sine and square, so now in combination with the Gongs I see much more powerful effects and results for myself and my clients.

    To you and the World
    Tai Loi
    Christopher Davis, Sound Healing Facilitator
    Royal Oak MI, USA

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