Showing posts from March, 2015

Miking Your Gongs/Bells/Bowls In Larger Rooms - Part 2

OK, let's look at some ideas about mics for Gongs/Bowls/Bells.

Whether you are using your own sound system, or using the house/rental system, the first thing to under stand is that the old stand by mic, the Sure SM-57, just won't do. I know, they're inexpensive and everyone has them, but they're the totally wrong mic for Gongs/Bowls/Bells. Great on drums, not great on Gongs.

Drum mics are not Gong mics.
The thing is, drums have a very limited frequency range that is mostly in the mids, with some lows. Gongs/Bowls/Bells are more in the upper frequencies, with larger Gongs moving into the mids and lows, covering the full spectrum. So yes, you can use an SM-57, or similar drum mike, but it will short change your sound. So don't do it unless that's all you have to work with.

Sure SM-57 frequency response
Above is the frequency chart for the Sure SM-57. The line represents the frequencies picked up by the mic, starting with the low/bass on the left, moving to the very hi…

Miking Your Gongs/Bells/Bowls In Larger Rooms - Part 1 of 3

Today's post comes from a suggestion by Mike Brother-Ong Tamburo in Pittsburgh, PA. Mike wanted me to write about miking Gongs in a larger room. That's a great subject, because it's also something with a lot of potential to help, or a lot of potential to go wrong.

*I must say that I'm not a sound & recording expert, but I've done my homework. I've also paid attention and asked questions, both in the recording studio and live, of sound engineers. As for recording Gongs, I've collaborated with a lot of engineers figuring out how to get the best Gong/Bowl/Bell sound. Take these ideas as a start for your own explorations.
I've played my instruments in very large rooms, concert halls, and outdoor settings where things have been miked with mixed results. Let's look at some problems first, and then some solutions.

The main problem I have found is most sound engineers (if you end up working with one) have absolutely no idea what to do when it comes to miki…

Looking Back On The 1st Year

Here I am, and this blog is now celebrating its 1st anniversary! The last year has gone by quickly. This blog is an offshoot of my other blog, Percussion Deconstruction(which just celebrated its 4th Anniversary!). As time went on, I became more focused on the Gongs/Bowls/Bells in my own work and wanted to write more about my experiences with them, but these experiences differed from what I was writing about in Percussion Deconstruction.

Thus, The Way Of The Gong was born. In the past year it has gathered its own audience and grown to be what it is today. And after 43 posts it keeps going deeper. 

There is much to explore and much to discuss. I am honored that so many people have found this blog to be both informative and inspiring.

I like to think that much of what I write in both these blogs is applicable to all types of music and musicians, as well as all types of art, whether it be dance, painting, sculpting, writing, poetry, etc., as I see everything connected and originating from th…

A Practical Application Of Doing The Work

I've been writing a lot lately about doing the work, getting to know your instruments and their sounds, and being aware of the sounds around you. I'd like to relate an experience that shows how all this works out in a real performance situation.

Here in Milwaukee, we have a once a month music series called, Unrehearsed. The curators of the series pick out people, and put them into 3 different groups—that are announced ahead of time— for each session. The groups are often made up of people who have never played together before, and each group plays one set of completely improvised music.

So last night, I played a duo set with vibes player, Tim Dries. I had played with Tim once before in an ad hoc percussion quartet a little over a year ago, so I had some knowledge of his playing. For me, things started a week before when I started thinking about what sounds would go well with the vibes—this is something I always do. I like to choose my sounds for specific gigs, instead of just sh…

It's All In Your Head

Before you even touch mallet to Gong/Bowl/Bell, the sound already exists inside you. This is especially true if you've spent a great deal of time working with your instruments. 

After having spent years working with my instruments, I know what sounds they can produce. I know what mallets/strikers will produce which sounds. I know how much force is needed to bring out certain notes or harmonics. I also know how different sounds will combine when played together.

Choices & Possibilities…
When I'm playing, I don't have to stop and think about what I need to do next. I know what to do. I instinctively reach for a mallet and/or instrument to bring in the next sound. It is never an accident, yet it is never preplanned. This may seem like a contradiction, but it isn't, as I carry all the sounds I have made in the past—plus the knowledge of how I made them—with me. I can hear everything in my mind as I am doing it. But this takes time and practice to reach this point.
There ar…