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The Art of Sound, Part 2

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I hope that you did your homework from last week's blog. I also hope that you may have discovered something about yourself and your playing. 

I make no secret that my background is as a trained percussionist, and that I always approach my playing from that perspective. Whether I'm playing a solo concert, a Gong Meditation, or improvising within a group, I'm always looking at what I do as a percussionist. It's in my blood. It's my nature.

What are you hearing?
Now that's not to say that I haven't done my homework as far as music as a medium for meditation and therapy. In fact, I've done a lot of studies in this area and continue to study it. But my whole approach comes down to making a good sound. From there I believe that people can pick up on the vibrations and utilize them however they want to. 


A good sound can be experienced and utilized better by the listener.
Excerpts from a recent comment on one of my Gong videos attests to that:

“From a sound designer…

The Art of Sound, Part 1

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“So in that sound you have to put in your guts, your strength and your own specialness. And what you are putting in then is your own Life and your own Life Force. When you hear some music or hear some sound, if for some reason you like it very well; the reason is that sound is in balance or in harmony with your pulse. And so making a sound, you try to make various different sounds that imitate various different sounds of the universe, but what you are finally making is your own sound, the sound of yourself.”- Watazumi Doso Roshi

Photo from shakuhachi.com


Watazumi Doso Roshi (1911-1992) was one of the most renown and respected players of the Shakuhachi, the Japanese bamboo flute. While the Shakuhachi is a fairly primitive instrument—a hollowed out length of bamboo with a carved mouthpiece and 5 holes—it is capable of an amazingly beautiful and expressive sound.
What has this to do with the Gong? Well, the Gong is even a simpler instrument—a vibrating disc of metal—that is also capable of …

Don't Listen To Me (Or Anyone Else)

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Don't listen to me and do what I do. Too many people today just mimic what others do. A trained animal can do that. 


Whatever happened to creativity?

Look around you. So many things today are just a redo of something old. Movies are a great example of that. How many movies have come out in the past 5 years that are just remakes of old movies? Sure, they can update them with CGI and other affects. They can base them on today, instead of years ago. But the story remains the same—and we've all seen/heard it before.

I'm glad that you are here reading my blog. That is why I take the time to write it. I like the idea of communicating what I think and know to others. But…don't just copy my thoughts and ideas. You aren't me. You never will be me. 

I'd much prefer it if people would be inspired by what I write, then go out and find their own version of it. The world has enough copies: be an original! Take ideas from me and everyone else, and use them to come up with your ow…

From The Mailbag: Are Your Planets Really Aligned?

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This is a long piece I wrote in response to a Facebook question a few weeks ago asking about the Planetary tunings that are currently popular with Gongs, tuning forks, and other small bells, like trigons. It has been edited and expanded a bit because I've had more time to think about it. 

Warning

The following is MY OPINION based on MY OWN EXPERIENCES. With all due respect to my friends and colleagues who work extensively with the Planetary Tunings, it just isn't my thing. So you readers may feel otherwise and have a different sort of experience. If it works for you, then great. Run with it.

Star Light, Star Bright

First, he biggest problem I find here is that the Planetary Tunings are not based on any sound that the planets, sun, or moon actually make! They are based on the rotation on their axis, or revolution around the Sun of these bodies in space. The calculations are based more on time than anything, and then the resulting calculations are somehow transferred over to become

From the Mailbag: Are You Counting?

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Today's question actually comes from the Q&A time after one of my recent sessions. “Are you counting?” was asked. I found it interesting that someone picked up on this. I didn't have a chance to ask them, but I suspect they were also a musician.

Yes, I count all the time. You can't be a musician/drummer for 50 years and not count! I count both consciously and unconsciously. When I'm not counting consciously, I'm feeling the time. At this stage of my life it's all innate and intuitive. Besides, I'm a counter. I count everything (well, not everything, but a lot of things. And that's a whole other story…).

Time has come today
“But you talk about working in no time,” you say. “What gives with this counting everything?”

Yeah, about that. For me, it works both ways. I count because I don't want what I do to be some sort of random pandemonium, because I've been to enough Gong events that I thought were just random pandemonium and not the least bit rela…

From the Mail Box: Where Do You Buy All Those Instruments?

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Today's blog question comes from Sonia, in Australia, who asked me:
I was just watching your videos from the sound chamber and I was wondering whether would you be able to advise me of where I could purchase those beautiful bells / chimes and kyeezes???
I currently have hundreds of instruments, bells, bowls, and gongs, that I've collected over the past nearly 50 years now. I've picked them up from various places: music shops, eBay, 'new age' stores, online dealers, antique shops, flea markets & resale shops, instrument makers, and some have even been given to me by people who thought I should have them. In fact, my youngest son just gave me a bell this week that he found on his travels in California this summer. He thought it would fit my other sounds!

Collecting instruments has been an ongoing activity for me. You wouldn’t believe all the new bells & kyeezes I collected in my travels this past summer! (insert my wife rolling her eyes yet again) I need to put …

Alchemy, Magick, the 432Hz Fallacy And Other Things

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Facebook is often a cesspool of false information and options stated as fact. But there are also pockets of wisdom and truth. There have been some interesting discussions as of late centered around healing frequencies and instrument tunings. Of course the idea of 432Hz and other magical tunings, as well as magical instruments, came up in these discussions.

Recently, Thomas Orr Anderson asked the questions:

If you were provided with one high quality tuning fork, tuned to some fundamental frequency between 80 Hz and 150 Hz, could you provide an effective therapy session with that tool... regardless of the specific tuning frequency?  Alternatively, if you were provided with one high quality bowl or gong... could you provide an effective therapy session with that tool... regardless of the specific fundamental tuning?Alchemy I take a very Alchemical approach to all this. Merriam-Webster defines Alchemy as:
alchemynoun al·​che·​my|\ˈal-kə-mē

Definition of alchemy 1a medieval chemical science a…

Letting Sounds Be Sounds

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We all make sounds with our instruments, but what about other sounds? What about the world around us and how it sometimes intrudes upon what we are doing?

When playing a meditative session, the idea is to provide silence so that people can relax. The only sounds should be the musical ones we introduce. But in the real world, sounds are everywhere. Try as we might, silence is a fantasy. There are always sounds happening.

I remember during one of my early sessions, the yoga studio was located on the main street of town. I was in my zone with the vibes flowing, when suddenly a large truck drove by making all sorts of loud noise. My concentration was broken, and I was sure everyone's restful mood was also. But I kept going, and afterwards, no one mentioned the truck. The same thing happened at a studio next to a railroad track. The train came by and took what seemed like forever to pass. But again, afterwards, no one mentioned it.

We live in a very noisy world, and as humans, we have ada…

Gong Summit Wrap Up

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A Final Overview

It's now a month since the end of the Gong Summit. I can still feel the experience resonating through my body/mind/spirit. I've only really started to process everything. 

For me, it was both life changing and life affirming.

Life changing in that I met so many wonderful people. We shared time, meals, conversations, ideas, and of course the Gongs. I learned so much, not only from the other Masterclass presenters, but from my fellow attendees. I watched all of you play Gongs, testing them out in the various rooms and hallways. I listened, I learned, I absorbed what everyone did. I'm sorry that I didn't have a chance to meet and personally talk with everyone there, but maybe next time. 

It was life affirming for me to be accepted so lovingly by everyone. I was initially worried that my Masterclass subject might be too out there or technical, but by the response and comments, it helped a lot of people out and reaffirmed many people's own thoughts and idea…

Gong Summit: Day 5

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All Good Things…

My initial reaction is, “How did we get here, to the last day?” The week has gone by in a flash (refer to my presentation about the elasticity of time). What a week it was. And now we are wrapping things up. Lunch was bittersweet, as we knew that we would all be moving on, back to our own lives. So many friendships were started or renewed here. It's difficult to part and leave it all behind. This has been a life changing event for many of us. 

We all got together in the barn room one more time. Mitch summed things up and thanked all the presenters and other people involved in making this Summit happen. There was laughter, there were tears, and there was a collective sigh realizing how much the time spent together meant to each of us. 

Last purchases were made of Gongs and accessories, and finally, it was time for goodbyes. And then packing it all up and loading things back into the trucks. Fortunately, the trucks were much lighter, as Shawn Aceto, Grotta Sonora, and …