Looking at Percussion through a radical eye, while shaking off the cliches of our instruments, and seeking the danger within all things…
"No great art has ever been made without the artist having known danger."
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Working With Gongs: Part 5 - Gongs as Hand Drums
Here it is, Part 5 of my Gong video series. This time I look at using Gongs as Hand Drums. Pretty cool stuff.
Today's blog is a revised & updated blog I posted 3 years ago on my old website. I'm always having people ask me about buying a Gong. Well, here's some tips:
•••••••• So you’ve decided to get a Gong. The first thing to ask is, what will I use a Gong for? What type of music do you play? Do you want to use it in a rock band, a jazz band, solo? Are you looking for a meditation device? These are important questions and will help determine what type and size of Gong to get.
One important thing to look at is how big a Gong do you want? Gongs are heavy. Gongs are not easy to transport. If this Gong will stay in your house/studio, then that makes it easy to have a larger size. But if you plan to travel in a band with it, you need to look at the impact a different size Gong will have on transporting it. A lot of drummers want a Gong because they look cool and sound cool. They also want that type of sound in their percussive arsenal.
I can't tell you how many times this argument of "A tam tam is not a Gong" comes up. It came my way no less than 3 different times this week.
Actually, 'tam tam' (also tam-tam) was 1st
used in symphonic music back in the 1800s to differentiate a flat faced
Gong from a Gong with a raised center 'boss.' (There is no definitive
answer as to where the term tam tam originated - some say it's Chinese, some say
it's Hindi, still others say it's something else…) To add to the confusion, 'tam-tam' is a term often used for either anAfrican djembe or talking drum.
When a score calls for a 'tam tam' (like Messiaen’s 'Et exspecto
resurrectionem mortuorum' or various works of Richard Wagner), then a
flat faced Gong, like a Chinese Chau, is used.
Flat Faced Chinese Chau Gong/Tam Tam
When a score calls for a 'Gong' (like Puccini’s 'Madame Butterfly', or
'Turandot'), then a bossed Gong, either tuned or untun…
Recently, I was asked a question about how Gongs are notated in a musical score. Here are various examples of different ways they have been notated, from traditional classical, to modern musical forms. The first thing is to differentiate the 2 main types of Gongs: the flat faced, usually termed Tam Tam in a classical score, and the Bossed Gong, with a raised center boss (AKA cup, nipple). A good example of a traditional symphonic Tam Tam part would be from Gustav Holst’s, The Planets. This example is from Mars, the Bringer of War:
We can see the Gong/Tam Tam notated traditionally on a single staff line. The next example is from Puccini’s opera, Turandot. This is the Tam Tam part, notated on the bottom line.
Example #3 is also from Turandot. The score also calls for Tuned Bossed Gongs. Unfortunately I was unable to find a score example of them.
John Cage used various Gongs in his percussion music. This is an example of how he notated the Gongs used in his First Construction (in Metal). This…