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The Art of Sound, Part 3

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 For The Want Of A Song

I’m a child of the 60’s, so I grew up listening to pop music. I love 60’s pop because it was so melodic, so singable. I love a good song and a good voice. Scott Walker, Dusty Springfield, Lulu and so many of the other 60s pop stars really are etched deep in my brain. And so is the idea of melody. 


Big Louise, sung by Scott Walker. Can you emulate that voice?
Melody is so important to me. Even as a drummer/percussionist, I'm always playing with melody in my mind. This goes especially with the Gongs, bells, and bowls. I've hand picked (or maybe ear picked) all of my instruments to form a melodic whole. I think of my set up as an orchestra in itself, with different sections and different voicings. 

Context Is Everything

I listen to a lot of string music, like quartets or solo violin/cello. So when I play, I try to emulate string players. I think about connecting notes and phrases like they do, as more a continuum of notes, not separate notes. 


Can you play like …

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 …