Gong with the Wind, Roar like a Lion
The most common and widely available gong in the world sometimes gets no respect.
I’m referring to what is popularly called a “wind gong” or perhaps more properly called a “Feng” and sometimes referred to as a Lion Gong.
The wind gong, or Feng, is almost completely flat (with a minor convex at the center and slight slope to the edges) without the typical turned lip of most gongs, and is fully lathed with a bright shiny surface.
Its flatness and lack of a lip allows the sound that a wind gong produces to move out quickly to the edges when it is struck, like fast moving wind, and can create both a splashy and a roaring sound like that of a lion (hence its nickname as a Lion Gong).
The wind gong has a faster “attack” or response when struck so sound can explode like a crash or an explosion. And like an explosion, its sound can also quickly fade away (at least in the smaller sizes).
The gong is favored by drummers with its almost cymbal-like nature and its ability to punctuate through any wall of sound.
Because of its production method of pressing and rotating on turning disks, wind gongs can be more easily and quickly manufactured than the often more expensive gongs of the same size.
This means that they are the most commonly gong sold and they can vary widely in sound quality, and hence sometimes are dismissed by gong players as being less desirable than the other gongs. Add to this that often less experienced gong players favor and buy them and then play them as if the objective was to make the loudest sound possible.
However, a well-made wind gong can produce an amazing evolving sound when played, from a whisper to a thunderous roar. Although it has little fundamental pitch (except for the large sizes), a wind gong can produce a full frequency of sound, and larger sizes can yield a long sustain.
The well-made wind gong is distinguished by a combination of machine lathing and skillful hand-hammering, and although not as strictly tuned as some of the European gongs, they can hold a nice fundamental tone when they are produced with a degree of quality control.
Of all the gongs, the wind gong comes in widest range of sizes, commonly available from 6 inches (15 cm) to 52 inches (120 cm) in diameter. Being somewhat lighter than gongs in similar sizes, they can be carried by hand and played more easily, and the 22’ to 24” size is very popular for that reason.
Wind gongs can play well with most other gongs, creating a nice underlying layer of sound or rising to the occasion of a perfect accentuated moment.
Yet sometimes these less expensive and commonly available gongs get no respect, and only purchased when the budget is tight or as an afterthought to the more finely tuned European gongs.
In some ways, however, more technical skill and an appreciation of the subtleties of gong playing is required (beyond the “bash and crash”) to get the best from a wind gong than other gongs, and when carefully selected can have the high level quality present in the finely tuned gongs.
Unless you can try a wind gong out before you buy it, it is best to get one from a well-respected producer or distributor of gongs. My personal favorite (at the moment!) are wind gongs produced in China for the German gong maker Meinl. Their quality control is excellent and the lathing on the gongs is both beautiful and effective in producing rich harmonics.
On a personal note, one of my favorite gongs from the ever-growing Mehtab Collection (as my wife calls it) is my 40” Meinl Wind Gong. Not only does it produce cell-shaking sound waves with a mere touch of a mallet, it happens to have almost the same frequency of the Jupiter Planetary Gong. It purrs like a lion, massages you like a lover, and screams your name into the wind.
Purchase your own Meinl Wind Gong through Mehtab!
How to Play the Gong
Santa Fe, New Mexico
June 16-17th, 2018
Kundalini Yoga & The Gong
Summer Solstice Celebration in Ram Das Puri, Espanola, New Mexico
Monday, June 18th @ 1:00 PM