Gong Summit: Day 1

It's 11:30pm as I write this after the 1st official day of the Gong Summit. Lots of action today as most of the people arrived and settled in. More Gongs were also brought out and set up. Gongs line all the downstairs hallways. It's definitely a candy store for Gong players. Most everything is for sale, and there's also a great selection of mallets, Burma bells, singing bowls, and related instruments and accessories. It's all magical. Where else can you try out so many fantastic instruments in person and choose the ones you want? I must admit to having to hold back from buying more things than I already have bought here!

Some of the mallets, bowls, and smaller Gongs for sale.

I just spent all day absorbing everything, all the vibrations, all the conversations, and all of the camaraderie. As you might imagine, the vibe here is amazing. Everyone is wonderful and open to the whole experience.

Grotta Sonora

One of the most impressive things here are the offerings from Grotta Sonora from Italy. Madhava Carrara and Margherita Cioffi are making some fabulous instruments. In the world of the same old Chau type Gongs, they are making some amazing new creations and hybrid instruments. Being able to see them and play them here is a wonderful benefit of the Summit.

Madhava playing the leaf, a bent metal leaf with a single string running from end to end. You can bow it with one hand and use the other to touch the string to change the pitch. You can also get a nice vibrato by gently flexing the leaf by grabbing the bottom and wiggling it up and down. The leaf is also a sort of parabolic reflector, so you sing or chant into it and have you voice reflected out.

The Summit

The Harp Gong

Why didn't I think of this? 6 tunable strings stretched across the face of the Gong. You can strike them like a hammered dulcimer, or pluck them, and they resonate through the Gong. You can also play a bass drone with a mallet with one hand.

Mike Tamburo playing the Tongue Drum Gong.

I can't remember if this is the official name, but take the popular metal tongue drum and weld it in the center of a large Gong and then make some crazy sounds with it. Again, the Gong acts as a resonator for the drum, both magnifying the sound and giving it a big wash of reverb. It reminded me of old school Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schutlz, but no synthesizers!

The giant metal bowl in the lobby with everyone's name tags around it.

Giant metal bowls meant to be played with flumi or bows. Amazing and beautiful high pitched sounds. Mesmerizing. I could easily take one of everything home with me. Oh, did I mention the plain Gongs that Grotta makes? Well, not really plain, but beautifully colored with sound just as colorful. Your basic Gong shape, but different metal and different sounds.

Mitch Our starting things off.

The evening featured a tribute to 3 Gong pioneers: Val Bertoia, Don Conreaux, and Christopher Tree. Mitch presented their stories and really set the stage for the whole Summit by going back to the beginnings of modern Gong culture. Just last week Mitch flew out to Oregon to interview the frail, elderly Tree. He felt it was important to get his story while he still could. Tree actually played Gongs at Woodstock, the original Woodstock. That in itself is a very important historic moment that most people don't know about.

A full house waiting for the panel discussion.

The night's panel discussion looked at the current state of Gong Culture, as well as an historical perspective, and a look ahead. The discussion was lively and thought provoking.  There was a lot of depth and insight as to what we are as a group, and what we are doing with the Gongs. Much food for thought. I was honored to be a part of the panel.

The panel. L-R: Moderator Thomas Anderson {leaning over), David Zach-Shemesh, Don Conreaux, myself, Jens Zygar, Mitch Our, Mike Tamburo, and Dan Sullivan from Steve Weiss Music.

OK, it's after 12:30 now and I need to get some sleep so I can do this all over again tomorrow, or more like today.

~ MB

Chop Wood / Carry Water /Play Gongs™


  1. Thanks a million MB
    A Capital job and very much appreciated by everyone like myself who couldn't be there.
    It was wonderful to see all the interesting sonic delights and all the Luminaries of the World of sound and metal magic.
    As always your shine a bright light Thank You.


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