The Mysterious Chakra Gongs
Yoga teachers and sound healers often work with the chakras, or energy centers, in their sessions and classes with students and clients. And of course the Gong is also often used in these healing environments as well.
There are many ways to consider the relationship that exists between the chakras and the gongs: astrologically, energetically, and by corresponding sound frequency range.
For example, in Vedic astrology we have planetary and chakra correlations such as Saturn for the first chakra, Jupiter for the second chakra, Mars for the third chakra and so on (as detailed in my book Astrology Yoga). For these chakras, we could use the corresponding Planetary Gong.
When looking at the generally agreed-upon sound frequencies (Hz) that correspond to the chakras, we discover that certain planetary gongs have tunings that affect the chakras, such as the Earth Year Gong for the heart chakra, Mercury Gong for the throat chakra and so forth (as detailed in my book Gong Therapy).
So using one of these two systems (astrology and tuning frequencies), we can select from the planetary gongs to work with the chakras.
Yet there are very few “chakra specific” gongs, and only one set from a large gong producer – the Paiste Sound Creation Chakra Gongs.
What are these mysterious Chakra gongs and what is their story?
There are three Paiste Sound Creation Chakra gongs. They all have a bossed (“nipple”) raised center that is struck to create the fundamental tone, and are not played like the other Paiste gongs.
The smallest one, at 11 inches, is designated for the Head energy centers. My set of these gongs is one of the first sets made from the 1980s. My 11” Head Chakra Gong has a frequency of 441.21 Hz and is tuned to the A note in the fourth octave.
The mid-size Chakra gong is 14 inches and designated as for the Chest energy centers and my gong has a frequency of 246.0 Hz tuned to the B note in the third octave.
The largest one is 16” and designated for the Abdomen energy centers is 140.0 Hz and tuned to C# in the third octave.
The newer sets may vary slightly in the tuning from my original set but the sizes are the same.
Notice that these three Gongs are also designated as Sound Creation Gong #8 (for the 11”), Sound Creation Gong #9 (for the 14”), and Sound Creation Gong #10 (for the 16”).
So where are Sound Creation Gongs #s 1 to 7?
For the answer we must go back into the twentieth century during the 1980s when Walter Meyer and other gong makers at Paiste were in a Golden Age of experimentation with the sound of the Gong. They were working on developing a line of sound therapy gongs to be used for healing, and these were the original Sound Creation Gongs.
They had Sound Creation gongs for the Moon energy (before there was a Moon planetary gong) and also the Sun, as well as gongs for the four elements of earth, water, fire and air, and two additional gongs to create a sense of Peace and the energy to Fight.
These gongs were designed as Sound Creation Gongs, ranging from #1 to #10 different gongs.
For example, the Earth Sound Creation Gong (as #3) was produced in three sizes: 26”, 38” and 60”. Paiste still produces the Earth Sound Creation Gongs today and eventually added a 32” size.
However, all the other Sound Creation Gongs were discontinued and no longer available – except for the Chakra Sound Creation Gongs, #8, 9, 10.
However, there were never Chakra Sound Creation Gongs in the original sound therapy line. So where did these mysterious chakra gongs come from and why are still they designated #8, #9, and #10?
The answer is that these three chakra gongs were originally produced as three (3) Air Sound Creation Gongs (#8, #9 and #10), and were the last of the ten original sound creation gongs.
Technically and numerically speaking, the current Sound Creation Chakra gongs are in actuality the original Air Sound Creation gongs!
So why are they called Chakra gongs (instead of Air gongs) and are they really connected to the chakras?
Purely and simply, the re-naming of the gongs was an excellent marketing decision. More people are attracted to purchasing different Chakra gongs than all three Air gongs.
Yet there is another more significant reason.
The original 11” Air Sound Creation gong was determined to affect the top of the skull (the seventh chakra) as well as the forehead, nasal cavities, and sinuses (the sixth chakra).
The 14” Air Sound Creation gong was said to work on the throat, neck and upper respiratory system (the fifth chakra).
The 16” Air Sound Creation gong was used for healing the lungs, circulation, cardiac rhythm, diaphragm, solar plexus, and sexual organs (the fourth, third and second chakras).
So the Air Gongs were also Chakra Gongs that affected the movement of prana (air) into these three areas of the body, and ultimately the various chakra energy centers.
Perhaps the 1980’s was too early to call these gongs Chakra Gongs and the focus at that time was on the purely physical areas of the body that the gongs worked with instead of the esoteric energy centers. Or perhaps there is another reason for this mystery.
Another mystery is that while the Earth Sound Creation gongs enjoy a definite popularity today due to their unique sound color, the Chakra Sound Creation Gongs are not widely appreciated or played
The Chakra Sound Creation gongs are often the last of the Paiste gongs that even fanatical gong aficionados put on their shopping list, perhaps due to the somewhat linear way in which they are played, but equally likely for the high price for their sizes (a set of these three comparably small gongs is around $3000).
Which is unfortunate. In many ways, this Chakra Sound Creation gongs are excellent and skillfully produced therapeutic gongs that deserve more attention from those who are actively exploring gong therapy.
Next year in this blog, we will explore in more detail the growing availability of the Earth Sound Creation gongs from all gong makers, as well as the return (!) of the Water Gong. Stay tuned.