Finding Your Own Voice

There are literally thousands (maybe even tens of thousands) of Gong players out there today. What makes you stand out from all of them? Really. What makes what you so different from the masses playing around the world everyday?

These are very important questions to ask yourself. I see so many people who just do indiscriminate banging on their Gongs and think they are doing something amazing. Well, they are not. And they are not any different than thousands of other people doing the same thing at the same level of mediocre competence and creativity.

A short Quiz

List you 3 favorite musicians/singers/bands. Then ask yourself why you like them and what makes them musicallystand out to you above all the similar artists. Go ahead and do this. I'll wait.

A Short Answer

Whether they are megastars filling arenas, or hometown musicians filling bars & clubs, they most likely have what Bowie called sound & vision. Along their career path, they developed a musical vocabulary, which they m…

From the Mailbag: Should I Set Up In The Center, Or Near A Wall?

From this week's mailbag: “Should I set up in the center of the room, or near a wall?”

There's no easy answer here, as everything depends on the room you are playing in. I have set up in all types of places in all types of rooms. I have always chosen my set up place in order to maximize the sound potential of the room, and in some cases to also maximize the seating potential of the people attending. But in a lot of situations, the room itself dictates where to set up.

Different Rooms, Different Acoustics

Let's take a look at various situations and also look at some of the acoustical problems presented by different rooms. While I have set up in the middle of a room onmany occasions, I prefer to set up near a wall. Part of this is my own personal preference for sound and how it works against a wall. Another part is how to fit everyone in the room. And there is also the acoustics of the room and how things will sound vs set up placement.

In a long rectangular room, I prefer to se…

More Gongs or More Mallets?

Today is another blog post inspired by a Facebook forum thread (Facebook is actually good for some things besides cat videos, like ideas and inspiration). 
Part 1
The first part of today's blog looks at the question: 

How many Gongs should I have? Or to be more specific, do I need to get more Gongs?
There's no easy answer to this. Good Gongs are expensive, so having the money to buy more may be a factor in building up your collection. But even if you are rich, should you just buy more Gongs? My answer would be, no. Yes, I know that I own what many people would say is way too many Gongs, so why would I say this? Let me explain.
As a drummer, I've had this same discussion about having a large drum set vs a small 4-piece one. My answer is the same: 
What is the concept that you have in your mind for the music you are making?
This is important. Each of us is different and we approach the music we make in our own way. I know that for me, I always have a concept for whatever musical pr…

From the Mailbag: 'Bonk' Sounds And Hearing Protection

This week we dip into the Mailbag and answer a few popular questions. 

Part 1

First up, some one is concerned that, My hard mallets make a bonk sound when I hit the Gong.

By 'bonk', I take it to mean they can hear the mallet striking the Gong. This is certainly a common thing when using harder mallets. There's often a contact sound we can hear when being right in front of the Gong. It can seem loud, but that's because we are inches away from it. These type of sounds tend to disperse quickly and are rarely audible a few feet away [an exception would be very hard rubber mallets or wooden sticks]. 

I record all of my gigs/sessions and have never really heard a bonk sound from any of my mallets on the recordings.

Another aspect of this is, what if the harder mallet that makes a bonk sound also makes the sound that you want? By switching to a softer mallet, you may not get the sound that you are after. 

Part 2

Another person asks, Do you use hearing protection when you play?


Demistifying The Excessive Gong Woo Woo

The whole Gong, Singing Bowl and sound healing world is so inundated with nonsense these days. I've worked in the percussion industry off and on for over 40 years. I've also been a music journalist for the same length of time. In both capacities I've been involved in products and product descriptions. In those years, I've seen a lot of embellishment in product descriptions, but nothing compared to the whole sound healing/therapy industry. Talk about woo woo bull shit…

There have been a number of recent Facebook discussions on some of the fairy tales people tell when selling Gongs, Singing Bowls, or other instruments used for sound healing/therapy.

Just to set the record straight, I am reposting some of the verified facts to dispel some of the untruths out there:

Singing Bowls are NOT from Tibet. The ones you have are most likely made in Nepal, India, or even Pakistan. [You could have one from Tibet, but probably NOT]Singing Bowls are NOT made of 7 or 10 metals. Sorry folk…

From The Mail Bag: How Do You Do What You Do?

Today we look a what is the most asked question at my sessions and from people online: How do you do what you do? This goes along with, What are you thinking?, and, Are you improvising?

A full answer would be very long and complicated. It would also not mean anything to anyone other than myself, because it's based on who I am, how I think, and how I feel.

The Alchemy and the Ecstasy 
A Typical Session

When I present a Meditation/Healing/Therapy Session (you can call it what you like), I base it on 3 main criteria:

The room I'm playing in. Different sized rooms, and different acoustics, call for different sounds and techniques.The people I am playing for. What are their needs and intentions that they have brought with them?How I feel at the time. What are my moods, vibes, and intentions.These 3 factors set the main tone for the session. On the next level, yes, I improvise a lot, all based on the 3 criteria above. But I also work with a plan, which is more a sense of flow. There is a…

What Gong Should I Buy???

First off, welcome to The Way of the Gong™ blog post number 200! When I started this blog nearly 6 years ago, I never planned to still be here in the year 2020. A big thank you to all who read and support my work here, and on my other two blogs as well.

I've covered this subject before, back in April 2013 in my Percussion Deconstruction™ blog before this one. It's a subject that keeps coming up, so I don't think it's bad to cover it again. 

Now on to today's blog:

What Gong Should I Buy???
Today's topic is a reoccurring one that came up again in a Facebook forum this week. I also receive a lot of E-mail with the same question, either, “What Gong should I buy?,” or a variation like, “I'm looking at these two gongs, which one should I buy?”

Today, there are a lot more choices than when I started out on the Gong Path some 45 years ago. There are so many choices, and opinions about those choices, that it can be a very confusing prospect for a neophyte to come to a d…