Posts

Showing posts from 2019

From the Mail box: Should I Change My Gong Cord

Image
This week I'd like to look at a question that comes not from my mail box, but from a recent Facebook discussion. Someone posted this: 
“The Gut Cord on my Gong is beginning to shred a bit. What is a good cord to buy to hold my 32" Paiste?…How often does the Gut cord need replacing? Mine is starting to shred after only 4 months on my 32" Paiste.”

Of course there were many suggestions as far as what to do, mostly about using different types of cord/wire to hang their Gong. I gave my suggestion as per a replacement cord, but then asked a very important question: how 'frayed' was their cord? 

They posted this photo:


In actuality, this is not very frayed and not a problem. I can certainly understand their concern, but Paiste has long chosen to use gut cord for their Gongs because it's extremely strong and durable, and also flexible. As for my own Paiste Gongs, most of them have cords that look like this photo. I have 20 year old ones that look like this. Gut cord wil…

True Confessions: I Don't Clean My Gongs

Image
I field a lot of questions about cleaning Gongs, but I have to admit that I don't really clean mine. I'm not obsessive about them like some people. I don't wear white gloves when handling them, in fact, I touch them with my bare hands. 

If you look at my Paiste Gongs from a distance, they look really great. Up close, you can see finger prints, scratches, discoloration, and areas where the wax coating has worn off. The coating tends to keep them in good shape. I may wipe them off with a cloth once in a while, or even wash them with water and Dawn Blue dish detergent, but not often (I can't remember the last time I washed them off!). 


Which Paiste Gong is 20 years old? 30? 40?
I love my Gongs and take good care of them. I always transport them in hard or flight cases, but let's face it, they are TOOLS. They are the tools I use to create the music I play. And as such, I don't obsess over keeping them as clean and shiny as the day I got them.


My 19 year old 32" Sy…

In Front Of Or Behind The Gongs?

Image
Not quite from the mail bag, but from a Facebook discussion on the right and wrong way to present a gong bath. This quote brings up an interesting point:


You know a person has a lot of experience with the gong, as a therapy, when you see them playing from behind the gong or gongs. People who are taught as "sound healers" to play with their backs to everyone, may not be too aware and sensitive to others needs.…You need to be able to see and observe what another person is receiving and feeling when giving therapy. 
Personally, I have always had my main Gongs behind me, so that when I play them, my back is to the people. This is a natural development from having the Gongs behind my drums when I was playing in progressive rock bands. Later, when I developed my solo percussion concerts, I kept the same set up. This was partly out of practicality, and partly out of not wanting to have the Gongs between me and the audience.

Solo concert set up, circa 2005: Gongs in back, drums in fron…

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

Image
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?

Image
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

Image
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:

Hertz
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

Image
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

Image
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.

Counting

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…