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Mindful Motion

Why I am addicted to my gong and what you probably don't know about gongs

Did you know that Germany is not only a leader in luxury cars, but also in the production of luxury gongs? Again, "Vorsprung durch Technik", in this case with fire and hammer.

The famous gong manufacturers are in Northern Germany and Eastern Germany, and their gongs can be found all over the world


The photo shows my "Water Gong "from Sona Sounds and Tone of Life, a really impressive instrument of 105 cm in diameter. It is from a series meant to embody earth, air, water and cosmos.

It is a Symphonic Gong from the small, fine gong forge Sona Sounds by Johannes Heimrath. It is forged from silver nickel and produced in collaboration with Tone of Life. It is not identical to the gongs made by the great German gong smith Paiste, but very similar. There are more details about the genealogy in the video below.

Sound characteristics

The sound spectrum of this gong is enormous. I like to play it in "meditative" technique. This means that the gong is not struck hard. Instead, it is slowly charged with vibrational energy with the finest, barely audible, but fast strokes of a small solid mallet. This technique is not so easy, because it requires a vibrato in the player's wrist, so to speak.

This vibrational energy envelops the listener in an extremely overtone-rich spectrum of sound that, at its peak, would be capable of covering the entire audible frequency range.

The sound of my gong is described by Tone of Life thus:

The water gong represents water in all its manifestations. ... It connects us with a deep ancestral knowledge, our feelings and emotions, it is nourishing and life-giving. It has a very deep, even, natural and rough sound, like the water around us, from a calm lagoon to a raging ocean. A great variety of overtones, with a beautiful structure of low, middle and higher tones.

(Translated with

One should not, of course, get stuck on this description when listening. One can, may and should give free rein to one's associations while listening. If a piano piece is called "The Little Shepherd", there is a danger that the image of a little shepherd will narrow the listening.

Also, the following might be interesting: in Indian philosophy, the 4 elements of water, air, earth, and are not to be understood literally (i.e., "earth" not as the earth (as a planet) or as sand, read, and dust).

They are representations of the qualities solid/solid, fluid, warm/cold and alive.

  • Earth: solidity, solidity

  • Water: fluid, flowing etc

  • Air: self-motion, life, the automatic breathing

  • Fire: temperature

So my gong represents the flowing, constantly adapting, variability, flexibility etc.

The gong is the most transformative instrument in the world. The gong's extraordinarily powerful vibrations work at a deep level. They enter at the weakest point of the body and work deep into the cells where a lot of information is stored. Physical and mental blockages can be released and old thought patterns and cellular information are transformed.

Sound is vibration, is light and love.

"The gong is the sound of creativity itself. The one who plays the gong plays the universe. The gong is a beautiful amplified vibration. It is like a multitude of strings, like playing with a million strings. The gong is the only tool with which you can create this combination of space vibrations." (Yogi Bhajan)

The gong is alive

For example, its sound characteristic is also dependent on the temperature in the room. It sounds richer in overtones when it has had a longer time to warm up in a warm room. It also sounds different depending on who I am playing for. It is a resonating body that reacts to its environment and the existing vibration field.

I had heard about this in my training, but I could only believe and understand it through my own different experiences.

Unlike a piano or other instruments, you cannot "tune" a gong yourself as a player. You can only give it the right temperature environment and take care of it mechanically. However, it can happen that it loses its sound characteristics due to unfortunate environmental influences or harmful treatment. Then it can be brought back to its place of birth and tuned to its original characteristics by forging, if necessary with fire and hammer.

History of my gong

The following video explains how these gongs came to be. On the left you see Johannes Heimrath, who has an interesting history as a rebel, and on the right Tom Soltron from

Tone of Life is a Polish team that does indoor and outdoor events around the world with gongs and other instruments, for example in one of the pyramids of Giza. I met them on a 9-day "Sound Therapy" with 20 participants from all over the world - and learned to love the gongs.

Admittedly - in comparison my equipment is much more modest than that of Tone Of Life. But the principle is the same. On the other hand - if you want - you can enjoy such a gong sound (and other instruments that frame the gong) as a single person. I will then tailor the session to you and your needs.

Gongs are difficult to reproduce acoustically

Even very high quality loudspeakers are often hardly able to reproduce the real, natural sound of a gong. I myself have found it most natural with Manger speakers. Due to their construction, these speakers react particularly quickly to any stimulation. Unfortunately, I do not own them - they are very expensive. Headphones also have their difficulties with them.

Nevertheless, here is a sound sample of my gong from Youtube.

The incredible frequency spectrum of the harmonics and the dynamics, as well as the complexity of the overlapping sound waves exceeds the complexity of all other instruments in this respect.

The next video shows how the overall sound of a slightly smaller gong , which is very similar to mine, is composed of different sound layers. Alessandre Tannous demonstrates this by isolating the layers. You have to follow the mouse movements and selected areas in the video to do this.

Recording is also challenging in itself, since microphones are kind of "negative speakers" (sorry from the non-technician!) and the problems are similar (Tom Soltron told me). So, for his musical recordings, Tom has only the very finest of the very finest in his recording technology. And yet he is dissatisfied.

Here's an example of Tom using his gongs. But if you don't have really good loudspeakers, you won't get the right impression. You can get that from me.

Big, even bigger

For those who want to know "what's up": below is a sound sample of the huge watergong, 1.57 m in diameter. This is the largest model in this series. However, it is too impractical for me - my model is the largest that still fits (just about..) in my trunk. Because I sometimes take it with me to events.

By the way, there are only three of one of these giant gongs in the world. One of them is at Tom Soltron, another one is in the Vatican at the Pope. The big gong is also a ceremonial, religious instrument.

Gong and money

To give an idea: A 1.57 gong from ToneofLife/Sonasound costs as much as two new simple small cars. And that without any electronics! It must be said that an investment in a high-quality gong is relatively stable in value. This is because the prices of raw materials are constantly rising, and each gong is a unique piece of craftsmanship. Therefore, these gongs can be compared to high-quality grand pianos. Each one is different, and you should listen to different specimens in the manufactory before buying.

However, you can of course buy gongs used. However, one must then be sure that the gong has been cared for.

Sound pressure and volume perception of gongs

I can say from my own experience at Tom's event that the large gongs are acoustically overwhelming and physically noticeable. They have the same sound intensity as a Concorde taking off had (at least that's what my partner said, who experienced the Concorde directly, albeit high above his house in takeoff flight, when it was still flying). There the glasses in the cupboard shook from the deep waves.

However: the perceived loudness with gongs is harmless for the ears. Because the loudness impression does not result from the sound pressure. It results from the superposition of an infinite number of frequencies, which create an enormous sound density that one cannot escape. So, even if I play my gong very very loud in the room (which I rarely do because of neighborhood), it reaches - objectively measured - only the measured volume of a lawn mower, namely about 80-90 decibels.

The gong and the psyche

But - this sound gets under the skin and into the soul. Some like it, but are also a little afraid of it. One of my clients experienced in a single session the extremely intensified pleasant trance feelings he knew from paragliding ("paragliding without risk"). Someone else thought he was in paradise and said quite dryly, "Now I don't have to be afraid of death anymore." For others, some fear arises, because experiences of being at the mercy of others and being overwhelmed can come up. One feels instinctively: there can always be more to come and one cannot control it as a listener. The gong is an instrument that leads into the depths.

The psychotherapist and music therapist Wolfgang Strobel, for example, says about the gong: "You could call it the Shiva of sounds, because it destroys the old and makes room for the new. . Its theme is crisis and transformation" (see Resources).

Dr. Hess, a physician, uses gongs in his psychiatric clinic for trance and transformation processes.

He says, for example, "Individual participants can have extremely threatening and frightening experiences at the intense sound of the 1.50 cm gong, while others have ecstatic experiences and the gong can't be loud enough because it is connected to their life energy" (see Resources). This is also my experience. Both when listening and when playing.

To this I must say that I never unthinkingly lead the gong into a sphere that may be threatening to some. That is the art: seeing and feeling where the listener/meditator/group is. It is my job to handle this responsibly.

The gong is a wonderful and effective therapeutic tool when used appropriately.

Regarding gongs and therapy/coaching: Johannes Heimrath (Sonasound) wrote a book on gong therapy many years ago. He called his method "Sonogram." However, it is only available antiquarian. Not too many therapists use this method. This is because the investment alone in the many high-quality gongs required for this would be a fortune. Cheap sound discs from Asia do not do it! More about this later in another blog entry.

The information not mentioned here about the effect of the gong and overtone-rich sounds can be found here and in the announcement for the Soundjourney.


How to listen to a gong "meditatively" (by me)

Video about the history of my gong

Group events with big gongs in several places in Europe

Gong manufacture Sonasound

Music example: Gong with other instruments

Music example: Demonstration of my gong (Attention: NOT played "meditatively")

About the gong in therapy

Wolfgang Strobel, "Grenzzustände in der Musiktherapie", in Reader Musiktherapie, 1991, page 170

Otto Heinrich Silber and others,

"Sound Therapy", 2010, page 168

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