The Sound of Earth
“It has dimples!” she said as she looked at my gong.
The Earth Sound Creation Gongs certainly look different from any other gong. They are distinguished by a pattern of small nipple protrusions all over the front of the gong, producing a seemingly random pattern of small “bumps” on the surface that look actually look more like pimples than dimples.
These bumps, created by selective hammering on the back of the gong during its creation, created a multitude of sonic nexuses that are responsible for producing a splashing, crashing sound that is rich in its complexity.
What is the history of this gong? What does it “do”? How should you play it? And why is it a good candidate for your second (or third or fourth) gong?
The beginning of the Earth Sound Creation (ESC) Gong goes back to the 1980s when a dedicated group of Paiste gong makers were experimenting with a line of therapeutic gongs. In conjunction with other sound healers (also in Germany), Walter Meyer and other gong makers at Paiste came up with a line of gongs that were made and sound differently from their line of symphonic gongs that were used by western musicians.
Their vision was to create a series of gongs that created a specific effect in the listener and so anticipate the eventual growing use of the gong as a healing instead of simply a musical instrument.
The line of what was to be called “Sound Creation Gongs”, initially included a water gong, a fire gong, three air gongs, three earth gongs, a peace gong, a “war” gong, a Sun gong, and a Moon gong. Notice that the earth, sun, and moon gongs are completely different from the similarly named planetary gongs that were to come later.
Instead of a specific frequency, the Sound Creation gongs were so named and created based upon the listener’s perception of what the sound of the gong was accomplishing on a psycho-physical level. For example, did the Sun Creation Gong create an impression or sensation of the energy of the sun when it was played?
Over time, the Paiste line of Sound Creation gongs was diminished as some of the original gong makers left or retired. Only the Earth Sound Creation gongs and the Air Sound Creation Gongs (renamed Chakra Gongs) were continued in production.
The original ESC gongs were produced in sizes of 26”, 32” and 38.” Later a 60” size was introduced in limited availability.
Other gong makers also began to offer the Earth Sound Creation gongs, and today you can find them in various sizes from Broder Oetken of Oetken Gongs (16” to 40”), Rolf Nitsch of Gongland Gongs (20” to 60”), and Johannes Heimrath of Sona Gongs (30” to 60”).
All of the ESC gongs work with the element of Earth, as opposed to the planet Earth, and as such, affect what yogis call the Pritvi Tattva or the Earth element (such as, Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether). The effects of the ESC are dependent both on the size of the gong and how it is played.
Johannes Heimrath, a German sound therapist, documented the Sound Creation gongs in a 1989 book in Germany (“The Sonogram of Personality – Gongs as Modulators of Body Energy”) that was eventually translated into English in 1994 called The Healing Power of the Gong, the first book devoted to the gong as a therapeutic instrument. He described the sound of the ESC as “depending upon its diameter, decidedly different, ranging from deep rumbling to a quiet fundamental ringing, powerful roaring, dry vibration, stormy rush to an explosive power.”
He also suggested that the different size ESC gongs affects different areas of the body as follows:
- 26” (66 cm) stomach, ulcer, gastritis
- 32” (81 cm) teeth, joints, alimentary canal, nails, hair
- 38” (96 cm) bones, muscular armor, joints, elimination, sexual energy
The sound of the ESC gongs has been described in a variety of ways, such as powerful, thunderous, mysterious, stable, grounding, all-encompassing, pounding, cleansing, and shattering.
In terms of playing the ESC gongs I find that using slow and deliberate heavy strikes at a low to moderate volume, and often in a downward motion can help control the tendency of the gong to overwhelm the listener.
I always use two mallets, even on the smallest size, to help mediate and stabilize the sound that is produced. Allowing the space between strikes to allow the sound to grow organically is important as repeated rapid strikes Is in conflict with stabilizing and grounding earth energy (unless you are trying for an earthquake effect!).
When working with the earth element, either with the gong or other modality, it can be useful in treating such physical conditions as Osteoporosis, cancer, sciatica, low back pain, knee problems, bone structure issues, intestines, muscles, skin, hair, nails, and solid body tissues.
Psychologically, it may prove helpful when dealing Depression, lack of clarity, monotony, dullness, indecision, emptiness, fear, anxiety, isolation, insecurity, and feeling ungrounded.
Ideally the sound of the ESC gong has the effect of support, stability, centeredness, and grounding.
Regardless of any therapeutic application, the Earth Sound Creation gongs add another dimension to the experience of both playing and hearing the Gong.