A Chinese wind gong is a flat disc of bronze that has been hand hammered until it sings the most beautiful sound. A traditional wind gong has been fully lathed to remove all of the black finish that was created by the forging process in its creation.
If you play the Chinese wind gong with a very soft and gentle touch, you can create a multitude of smooth sounds.
If you close your eyes, you can easily imagine that you are floating in outer space, out into the cosmos. Nothing's holding you back, just floating away with an unlimited number of smooth overtones. If you play the wind gong more aggressively, sounds have a faster opening and uplifting feeling. Now, imagine lying on the green grass under a beautiful tree full of leaves. Someone taps the centre of the gong gently; you feel a warm breeze airlifting you up into the expanding branches of the tree. As the overtones build, the sounds begin to open up, just as the branches of the tree open up into smaller limbs with leaves. As the player begins to play harder and faster, the overtones begin to shimmer like the wind blowing through the outer leaves of the tree. Eventually, you are one with the leaves at the top of the tree as you crash and shimmer in the wind. (I can't help but smile and feel the sound of the gong as I write this.)
What mallets should I choose?
Each gong comes with one free traditional Chinese mallet.
Gong mallets make a big difference in the sounds that you produce on your gong. Here is a quick lesson for you.
There are two different two different types of mallets. Mallets for striking or tapping your gong and friction mallets or flumies for rubbing across the surface of your gong.
There are two main variables to consider with gong mallets;SIZE and HARDNESS.
GONG MALLET SIZE: Small mallets played along the rim of your gong bring out the high notes, while large mallets played in the centre of your gong showcase the lower notes. Here's why this happens. High sounds have tiny, fast sound waves. Low sounds have big slow sound waves. If you tap your gong with a big mallet, you are muting the smaller sound waves so that you hear mostly the lowest tones. If you tap with a small mallet, you are allowing the high sounds to sing to their fullest, so you hear those nice high sounds along with some of the lower tones.
GONG MALLET HARDNESS: If you have a hard mallet, the time spent on the surface of the gong is shorter. The mallet will give a sharp, bright attack, like a call to attention. If you have a soft mallet, more time will be spent on the gong, and a more gentle muted sound will occur.
Friction mallets are also known as flumies. Imagine your gong is silent. You slowly and gently rub a Bear Love friction mallet from the top of your gong to the bottom. As the friction mallet moves slowly downward, the friction of the ball being rubbed across the surface of your gong causes tiny vibrations to travel from the ball to the outer rim of your gong and back. At first, you don't hear any sound. There are too few vibrations in the gong to create a sound. As you progress slowly down the gong, you begin to feel tiny vibrations in the gong. Still, there is no sound, only the feeling of the gong vibrating. When the gong has been awakened, beautiful sounds begin to blossom. Smooth, rich overtones start washing over each other.
There are two variables that determine the pitch and quality of the sounds created by your flumies; MATERIAL and SIZE.
MATERIAL OF THE FLUMIE / FRICTION GONG MALLET
Flumies are basically a rubber balls on a stick. When we got our first gong, we scoured the dollar stores and toy stores, looking for the perfect rubber ball. We played with a variety of textures and sizes of balls as well as different stick sizes and had some fun making squeaky sounds and whale sounds on our gongs. The sounds were fun but not smooth and balanced. Then as we became more experienced gong players, we invested in friction mallets from different companies. Each company has their own secret recipe for the type of rubber or silicone that they use.
Our favourite brand of friction mallets is the Bear Love Flumies. We feel these are the most luxurious friction mallets. I describe them as the most expensive chocolate you can buy, with smooth, rich flavours that melt away. Expensive but worth every penny. Staying with my chocolate analogy, there are less expensive flumies on the market, just as there are less expensive chocolates. Less expensive chocolate, like the Easter Chocolate you get at the dollar store, is great. It works when you need a quick fix, but it just doesn't compare to smooth, rich, luxurious chocolate. The less expensive flumies have their place. They are fun, but they just don't have that smooth, rich sound like Bear Love flumies.
SIZE OF THE FLUMIE / FRICTION GONG MALLET
The smaller the mallet, the higher your tones will be, similar to whale sounds. The bigger the flumie, the lower the tones, like a low deep rumbling of outer space. Tiny mallets work on all sizes of gongs, while larger mallets are used for larger gongs that support deeper tones. The numbers of the Bear Love flumies represent the size of the ball in cm. For instance, #4 has a 4 cm ball.