From the Mail Bag: Why Aren't Your Gong Stands More Artistic?

Today's post features a recent comment from the mail bag, or more accurately, from one of my YouTube videos about Gong stands:
Most all gong stands I have found are boring and do nothing to present the beautiful gong that brings so much joy to our well being. I am surprised your stands are not more artistic like.  I built a great gong stand in my shop to hold my 40 inch wind gong.  My gong is very happy to be housed in it because it told me so.
I have nothing against beautiful, artistic Gong stands. I do have some decorative wooden ones in my house that are more for displaying various Gongs I have. Decorative stands, much like fancy furniture, are great for permanent installations.

My current rack set up: sturdy & functional
I'm a working musician and have been for almost 50 years now. Currently, I play 8-12 gigs a month with my Gongs, generally traveling within a 100 mile radius of my house. I also have to carry and set up everything myself because I have no helpers or road …

From the Mail Bag: What Happened to Balter Mallets?

Today is another post from the mail bag. I've had multiple people ask me where to find various models of Mike Balter Mallets. The state of things at Balter is changing, because Mike Balter retired last year and sold his company to the Zildjian cymbal company, who also owns the Vic Firth drum stick company. 

Balter made mallets for both Zildjian & Firth (as well as many other drum companies). Zildjian has made some changesto streamline things, dropping some Balter mallet models that were also available from Zildjian or Firth, or moving some models from one brand to another. Unfortunately, some models were dropped completely.

This is especially a problem for Gong players, as Zildian has done away with all Balter Gong mallets! There are some duplicated with a Firth model, but my favorite and most used models are now gone. 

I have to say that I have played Balter mallets literally forever, and I've been an endorsing Balter artist since 2005. But I have no insight or clue as to wh…

From The Mail Bag: Hz, Pitch, Tune, Frequency, Overtones, Harmonics

Today's blog comes from the mail box. The very talented Gong Maker from Argentina, Blau Gong (Facebook or Blau Gong) asks:

I hope if an any next article you could teach a little bit of characteristics of sounds. Concepts like hz, pitch, tune, frequency, overtones, harmonics, because I don’t know a lot, but usually I read stupid things like, "Chinese gongs don’t have harmonics" etc. Thanks.
This is a really great question, as I suspect many people don't really know much about these concepts. So let's take a closer look:

The hertz is the derived unit of frequency in the International System of Units and is defined as one cycle per second. It is named for Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, the first person to provide conclusive proof of the existence of electromagnetic waves. Hertz are commonly expressed in multiples: kilohertz, megahertz, gigahertz, and terahertz. (from Wikipedia)
Hertz, abbreviated as Hz, is the measurement of the vibration of sound waves. The current intern…

The Fluidity of Time & Space - 3

Grab a cuppa and relax, as we are going deep in this blog…

Defining Time

Time. It's such an interesting concept. On one hand, we are so tied into it - clock time. On the other hand, we can experience a point where it doesn't exist - no time. Like when we get engaged in an activity so deeply that we lose our sense of time. We finally finish that project we were working on, look at the clock, and realize that 4 hours have passed. But it didn't seem like 4 hours. It really didn't seem like anything. We were engaged in the activity and not aware of time - there was no time. Another example is, after I finish a Meditation Session, where I've just played for 60-70 minutes, and people comment that, “It seemed like it was only 10 minutes.”

We can also experience the opposite, where time seems to drag on forever, like when we are waiting for an appointment, or at a shopping checkout, or when we are doing an activity we are not engaged in. There is a sense of elongated time, ti…

The Fluidity of Time & Space - 2

Time. How do we actively work with it, mold it, change it, and change our perception of it? 

Self Perception of Time

We live in a modern culture that is based on time. Clocks, computers, and other machine dissect our world into tiny increments of perceived space/time. Our lives are directly tied into this clock time. Everything we do is directed by clock time in some form. Let's look at a type of time perception and how to change it.

We all are intimately bound to music in our lives. The beat often drives us in our daily work, or daily activities. As a drummer, I'm extremely aware of how time works and how it is used in our modern music. Let's look at some basic exercises to establish a sense of time, and then move away from it.


This is a bit esoteric, and there's no need to be exact in your counting. As you move your notes further apart it becomes difficult to keep track of the time in-between them. This is OK.

This is one continuous exercise. Pick a fairly fast te…

The Fluidity of Time & Space - 1

Contrary to most people's thinking, time and space are not absolutes. One of the current waves of scientific thinking is that neither actually exists, except in our own minds. In fact we, and the world we experience, may not exist and are merely projections of our consciousness. 

With this in mind, Gongs, Bowls, and Bells are the perfect instruments to use in order to break through our perceived notions of time and space. After an hour long Gong session, it's not unusual to have someone say, “That seemed like only 10 minutes.” It's also not unusual to have someone say, “That seemed like all day long.” 

The same session. 
Different people.
Different experiences.

The illusion of time
Time is an Illusion

We've all experienced our day dragging on, seemingly like it would never end. We've also experienced being engaged in some activity and having the time fly by. These 2 examples show that time is more a perceived experience than an absolute. 

When I'm presenting a meditati…

Gong Hacks: #1

Gong Hacks

Over the course of my career, I've come up with a lot of practical and easy solutions to everyday percussionist problems, so I plan to feature these here in 2019. A lot of these may seem like common sense, or simple ideas, but I'm surprised how many other people haven't thought of them.

Gong Hack #1

Your hands are you main tools, so you really need to take care of them. When I'm loading/unloading, and setting up/tearing down, I always wear a pair of work gloves. These have not only saved on the wear & tear my hands take, but they have saved me from injuring my hands on many occasions. Note, these are made from heavy material or leather, not your white cotton gloves that many Gongers wear to keep fingerprints off their Gongs.

I currently have 2 pair that I bought for under $10 each pair at a local hardware store. I keep one pair with my cases, so they're always ready when I have to load up for a gig. I know most of you probably don't have and use as m…