How to play a gong

The full sound spectrum of your gong can unfold once you have gained experience with how to make it sound – whether with mallet or gong driver. The location of the gong and the choice of the mallet also play a crucial role. With our tips you can get the full sound out of your instrument both as a beginner and as an advanced player.
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The most important facts in brief

  • The gong is played with a mallet or rasp.
  • The location and objects in a room determine the sound quality when playing the gong.
  • The larger the gong, the more practical experience is usually required.
  • Driving a gong requires a little more practice than striking it.
  • Gongs are used in sound meditations, sound massages or even yoga classes.

Preparation: How to prepare the gong game

Whether you are practicing alone or for a group, before you start playing the gong, you should make some preparations. This allows the full sound of your instrument to unfold unhindered, and you or your participants can fully engage in the experience.

Placement of the gong

In order for the sound waves of your gong to unfold as undistortedly as possible, you should carefully choose the room and the exact location for your instrument. The sound waves that unfold during the playing of the gong are influenced, among other things, by the size of the room and other objects that are in it.

Sound reflections, which are not always easily perceived, can change the original sound quality of your gong, for example by lengthening the sound or coloring it differently. Some surfaces also absorb sound. For example, curtains or carpets can attenuate high frequencies or cavity walls can absorb low frequencies.

Tip

It is best to place your gong in a location where there is equal space both in front of and behind the instrument, with as few obstructing objects on either side as possible.

Choice of the beater

Another must-have for your sound practice is the right gong mallet. With a high-quality mallet or gong mallet that is matched to the size and type of your gong as well as the desired sound frequency, you will achieve the best result. There are a number of different mallet types – basically, the bigger your gong, the bigger the mallet you use should be.

High quality gong mallets, like the ones you find in our store, produce little or no impact noise – this has an enormous effect on the sound experience. So when choosing your beater or reamer, consider not only your individual needs, but also the materials used and the weight. When in doubt, always seek the advice of an expert.

Note

Mallets with a smaller head produce brighter tones than those with a large one.

For your sound practice with the gong, we recommend a choice of three different mallets:

  • The ollihess Profi Gong Mallet 460 L – A large, soft fleece mallet with which particularly deep tones can be produced. For gongs with a size between 70 and 120 cm.
  • The ollihess Profi Gong Mallet 186 – produces medium to soft tones, suitable for all gongs.
  • The ollihess professional gong Mallet 70 – suitable for the smaller gongs. The mallet is slightly harder and produces clear, direct tones.

Instruction: How do I strike a gong correctly?

Most gongs have three different playing zones, each of which has characteristic features.

The three different gong playing zones:

  • Central center: Here you can create the fundamental and the lowest tones.
  • Outer ring: The ring around the center of the gong is where the overtones and higher notes develop when played.
  • Rim of the gong: The outer rim of the gong is the most stable part of the gong – here you can create the highest resonant frequencies.

Both as a beginner and an advanced player, you should take plenty of time to explore the different areas of your gong. As time goes by, you get more and more control over the volume and rhythm and find your way more and more into intuitive playing.

Gong "warm up

Many gong players warm up the gong before they begin actual playing. This involves “tapping” the gong very lightly with a mallet a few times before striking it. The knocking should be relatively inaudible. This procedure should make the sound brighter overall.

Gong attack techniques

As an experienced player, you will continue to develop your playing techniques: Experiment with different touch points, single and combination strokes. To further deepen your practice, you can try hand gongs in addition to hanging gongs.

The larger the gong, the more an understanding of precise striking is required. In the Peter Hess® Institute you will not only learn to set up different playing sequences, in the trainings above all the holistic and valuable work in sound therapy and sound massage is taught.

Instructions: How to rub a gong?

Rubbing a gong with a gong reamer produces sounds ranging from gentle to effervescent. The gong is set into vibration and unfolds long-lasting tones. The resulting sound is reminiscent of the chanted mantra “Om” or even whale and dolphin singing.

In this technique, the reamer is mindfully moved in a circle over the surface, causing the gong to vibrate gently. The longer you rub, the stronger the sound that is produced. The rubbing is performed only with light pressure.

The technique of rubbing requires a little more experience than hitting the gong. As an advanced player, you learn best by experimenting: Explore the three gong playing zones and notice the difference in tones. You can also use your fingertips while playing. With a little practice and the right pressure, you can create very different timbres.

Tip

To “warm up” the gong, gently tap it once before rubbing.

Possible uses of the gong

Within the Peter Hess® sound massage and the Peter Hess® sound methods there are numerous sound elements and sound settings in which the TamTam gong and the Fen gong are used.

Sound setting is the environment in which you do your sound practice with your sound instrument.

For example, in the Peter Hess® sound pedagogy developed by Peter and Emily Hess, there is a setting called “Dance of Life” in which four TamTam gongs are used.

In addition, gongs form an important element for fantasy and sound journeys, sound meditations or concerts. A wonderful impression of this is given, for example, by the meditative sound moods with gongs and singing bowls by Peter Gabis. You can experience how the sounds unite into a flow when listening to his CD Pravaaha or in the small video.

The main areas of application of the gong:

  • Sound massages and sound methods
  • Sound meditations
  • Sound and fantasy journeys
  • Concerts

Video Rhythms of Silence

Watch the live concert of Peter Gabis and dive into a world of silence behind the rhythm.

Playing gong during sound meditations

The sound of the gong can help you or your participants relieve stress and find inner peace and balance. In order to succeed, you should already have some experience in playing the gong and be well acquainted with your instrument. The less you need to focus on handling during gong meditation, the more you can engage with your own sensations or the guidance of your meditation group.

Preparation of the square

Prepare the space where the sound meditation will take place with mindfulness. There should be a pleasant atmosphere and a pleasant climate. Air the room a few minutes before you start and set up the place from which you will play well. Maybe you have a meditation cushion and play while sitting; or your gong allows you to play while standing or moving. You may also be playing your instrument outside in nature.

Keep the peace

Whether you’re playing indoors or outdoors, make sure your chosen location is quiet. The less distraction there is from everyday noises, the more you or your participants can engage with the sound experience.

Initiate meditation

Begin with breathing exercises to arrive fully at yourself and at the place of the event. If you are practicing just for yourself, find a comfortable seat or lie on your back in Shavasana for a few minutes to tune into your practice. If you play for others, a breathing meditation can serve to prepare your participants optimally for the effect of the vibrations of the gong.

Once you have come to rest, you can slowly begin to play the gong with the mallet or reamer. Start with soft sounds and increase the intensity towards the middle of the meditation. Try to keep your eyes closed as much as possible or ask your participants to do so at the beginning. In this way, the focus can be fully directed to the penetrating sound experience.

Targeting specific areas of the body

Different frequencies address different regions or energy fields of the body. For example, warm and bright tones better address the heart area or the head, while deep tones mainly address the abdomen and the lower back.

Each energy center in the body is assigned a specific frequency or tone. Depending on which tradition one follows, the indications are somewhat different and different frequencies and thus tones are assigned. Again, listening to your own sensibilities and experimenting with the sounds is good advice.

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Playing gong during sound massages

Sound massage with a gong can support the self-healing powers in people who are undergoing medical or therapeutic treatment, or those who want to do something specifically for their health.

Relaxation and harmonization of soul, mind and body can contribute to the strengthening of human health. The spherical vibrations set every cell of the body vibrating, leaving a delicate tingling sensation and clarity and vitality even hours after the experience.

In sound massage, the gong is placed at a point in the room where the sound can best unfold and thus penetrate the body to the cellular level. The sound practitioner applies a specific playing technique that produces different frequencies and intensities, thereby targeting different regions of the body. If singing bowls are completely dispensed with during meditation and only gongs are used, several gongs are usually used. They are placed in the space around the person’s body and played one after the other.

“The interplay of the gongs is a very powerful tool to take people even deeper into a meditative state.”

Jana Hess

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