A Small Gong Is Good to Hold
Many people start their gong playing career with a mid-size gong that can produce a wide range of sound. The 24” to 32” gongs are the friendliest to learn to play, not as hard to control as a small gong and easier to manipulate than a large gong.
However, maybe you should think small – like a gong you can hold with one hand when you play it.
Hand-held gongs offer the gong player a wealth of opportunities and flexibility of performance. Easy to transport (you can put it inside luggage or in an overhead airline compartment) and with no stand needed, a hand-held gong can take your gong playing to places and people you may not be able to “gong” otherwise. Think outside, at the beach, on top of a mountain, or a hike through the woods.
Hand-held gongs allow you to move through space and around your listeners so the sound of the gong, to create a more intimate and personal experience for the listener.
What are guidelines for selecting and playing a hand-held gong? Obviously the number one consideration is: Can you actually hold and play it with one-hand?
For the majority of gong players, a 22” gong is usually the largest they wish to hold and play for any length oi time. My favorite hand-held gongs generally range 14” to 18” (35 to 45 cm) in size so they are light enough to move easily around, up and down, and fit inside a backpack or in a piece of luggage.
What are good candidates for a hand-held gong, other than size and weight? Ideally, although it is small, the gong can produce a relatively longer sustaining sound. With a hand-held gong, it is best to strike it once, and allow the sound to play slowly out as you move it through space.
Some of my favorite hand-held gongs are those with the bossed or raised center, popularly in Indonesia and Thailand. Yes, they only produce one tone when struck on the center, but the sound is powerful and penetrating and sustains well as you move around.
Of course, wind gongs also work very well and make great sounds as you play them while moving about, and they are a good complement should you have larger gongs on stands.
Some players make the mistake of over-sizing the mallet for their hand-held gong. Too large a mallet can produce a crashing sound and too much movement in the gong itself. Generally, a smaller mallet is best since you will be carrying the sound to the listener and it will give you better control over the movement of the gong itself.
They are other guidelines for selecting and playing hand-held gongs (such as do not swing your gong toward your listener’s head!) and how to use the small gongs for one-on-one healing and therapy, but that is a separate training or workshop in itself.
And we have one for you – actually a full week of exploring the use of small hand-held gongs in rituals, meditations, therapy, dance, healing circles, and in the outdoors.
Come be with us in Mallorca this September for a Gong Retreat and Training that will help you think big about small gongs!