Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

An Impromptu Gig

by rg Thu Jun 7th, 2007 at 07:03:26 AM EST

Bumped & promoted from the diaries ~ whataboutbob (and gonged in the middle by afew)

When you are dealing with a certain type of group organization, essentially characterized by the old tribal order of society you see human beings who are linked together by a common Great Ancestor, a common ideal of unity in the past. This is the root power which brings them together, which gives them their unity. They live in a common land, have a common tradition, a common language, a common religion; the god of that religion is the spiritual Ancestor, the Soul of the tribe. You have there a type of organization where unity is back of you, in the past. The One is becoming the Many; the one Ancestor has many children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on -- all of the same common type.

When, on the other hand you consider people with entirely different cultural background (language, religion and social temperament) who come together in order to reach a common purpose to reach a unity which is ahead of them, to develop a sense of working together, of co-operation individuals dedicated to something which is ahead of them, in the future -- a totally different situation is encountered. You are starting with individuals who are different; then somehow those differences are becoming harmonized by a common purpose, a common decision, a common will to achieve something which is of value to all and which they all consciously recognize as individual persons.


As you all know, I have recently been to see Hans Dulfer play at Café Alto.

The best jazz I've heard, once again--the skinny guy was there, but playing differently this time, and he had his hair jelled up in some spikes maybe--the pianist looked a bit balder, but five years or more have passed since I first walked into Café Alto to find--yes!--exactly the same musicians playing exactly as well five years later--a small beer costs two euros fifty.

Here's the skinny guy, on the left.  He's great at playing the sax and doesn't seem so skinny these days.

Hans is on the right, his eyes blazing red as the demons of jazz leap through him and out of his horn...

At certain moments--when the drummer was bashing some outrageous rhythm from his kit, or when the bassist was channelling Jimi again--Hans would howl like an Amerindian and encourage us to howl too.  We howled!

So anyway, the thing is, I needed a gong.  

"I need a gong.  In fact, I need two gongs."  I had said this many times to many people in the weeks before our trip.  But a guy walked into our local percussion shop a month ago and bought all the gongs; the shop still hadn't re-ordered.

Amsterdam.  Gongs.  It's gotta be, right?

Right.  We arrived on Wednesday and, after dinner and before watching the majesty of Hans Dulfer's band, we went for a wander in the old centre where we passed two (!) shops with gongs in the windows.  The first shop was a large boutique just off Dam square and near the Golden Chopsticks eaterie.

The other shop was a Chinese supermarket halfway down Zeedijk.

So the next morning we went gong hunting.

First, the supermarket.

"Can I try that gong, the one in the window?"

Of course!  Move move, shunt shift, heave ho, here it is.  Here's the beater.  GONNNNNNG!   GONNNNNNNNG!

Hmmm.  Choosing a gong.  It has to have the right tone for you, "you" in my case being someone else--who was with me--so GONNNG!  GONNNNG!

"Do you like it?" I said.

"Hmmm.  I'm not sure."

So the gong went back in the window and I fished out a pair of hand cymbals.

I tapped them together.  Multitones!

"How do you play these?" I said to the woman who had come over to see who was making all this racket.  She took them from me and bashed them together.


She smiled and then said.  "You buy?"

"How much?"

They were priced by the centimetre, so someone went to find a tape measure and ho hum, crash, brush, hmmm.

"Forty five euros."

"For both of them?"

(Oh yes, I is that dim--they were joined by thick string but you never know...well, I never know...)

"Yes.  Forty five euros.  You want mask?"

There were huge masks hanging from the ceiling.

"No thanks."


But no gong.

Wander wander up past Ze Cocaine Hotel (I mean, 'twas the only place where someone muttered, "Cocaine"?) and round the corner to...

the boutique.

In we went.

"Can I try that gong in the window?"

"Yes, of course."

But she couldn't get to the window display so she opened up a box and gave me a new gong.  I hit it a few times.  Hmmm.  Were the tones right?


"Have you got any others?"

"Yes, come with me."

Up some stairs we went.  They had four large gongs.  I tried each one, leaving the largest to last.  It was HUGE.  When I gave it a whack it went GOOOOOOOWONONONONONONONONONONGGGGG!  Too huge to carry, four hundred euros.

So....was it there or somewhere else that we asked if there were any music shops around?  Turns out there was one near Munttower

...and what a pretty tune it played as we passed, getting ever more dissonant towards the end.

"I wonder if they could get it to play one of Bach's partitas," I said, only I probably said "sonata" and I probably said, "I wonder if it's playing one of Bach's sonatas," what with the dissonance.  Or was it a broken bell?  Somewhere in Dam square I heard a similar tune with similar dissonance towards the end.

So..to the music store.

"Do you have any gongs?"

They had just the one, which they hired out.  BASH CRASH!  it went when the woman in the shop hit it.

"Do you know of any percussion shops which might have gongs?" I said.

Turns out they did.  The shop was in Raadhuisstraat.

I knew where that was and yes, there was a percussion store.


We went inside.

"Do you have any gongs?"

"Yes, come with me."

I was led behind the counter and to a staircase, upon the wall of which, oh lordie!, were hanging oh so many gongs!  Gong heaven!

The man disappeared for a moment, then reappeared with a large fluffy beater.

"Thanks," I said, and then I hit all the gongs (every last one) and found--yes!--the gong which had the right tone.

I gave it to the guy.

"You want a plastic bag?" he said.

"Hmmm.  Yes."

"Maybe you need a carrying case?"

"Ah, yes.  What an excellent idea!"

"And this beater is very expensive.  I should let you try a cheaper one."

I tried the cheaper one.

"I'll have the expensive one," I said.

A gong, a beater, and a carrying case.

And all the other pleasures of Amsterdam including the zoo, where we saw a baby gorilla as the hippo sang to us....

The planetarium show was in Dutch and didn't have as much swooping as I'd hoped for.  In the penguin enclosure I saw my new favourite bird.

The penguins looked the worse for wear.  

And it was the afternoon, so every animal was s l o w--and I suppose I'd go slow if my life was confined to an enclosure 50m square or less.

We saw a huge crocodile.  Armoured eyes!

So thank you for that, Nomad.  It was a good trip and the zoo is the size it is.  The poor old Orang Utan, though...huge hairy fella he was...

And anyway, the whole point of this pre-amble was to bring you to an understanding of why at seven o'clock last Saturday morning I was standing in a queue at Schiphol airport waiting to have my baggage X-rayed while carrying a twenty inch gong in its case.

"Will it fit through the machine?"  I asked.

Of course!  Put it on the conveyor along with your money and keys, mate.

Then I was beckoned forward into a machine, where I stood, arms raised, as part of the machine whizzed around and magically removed my clothes for the benefit of someone in a room in another building (the info. said)...and then a quick check of my belt and...okay...where's the gong?

Just the other side of the machine of course, next to a woman staring at the X ray of the contents of the bag--and frowning.  The guy next to her mimics hitting a gong.  Ah ha!  They have seen the beater in the bag!

"A gong," I said, smiling.

The woman stood up and brought me the bag.

"It's a gong," I said.

"Can you play it?"

"I can if you want."

"Yes, I want to hear it."

"Are you sure?" I said, unzipping the bag.

She nodded.

"You're sure?" I said, holding it up and taking a fairly large backswing.



Man, they jumped!  All of them, everyone, including the woman who asked me to hit the gong.  Imagine it, you're standing in the queue to be X-rayed (terrorists!); you're handing over your metal objects (they might put you in a room and body search you!) and next thing you know GONNNNNNNNNNGGGGGG!

My gig at Schiphol ended abruptly.  The woman put her hand on the gong, damping the sound.  "You play this for music?" she said.


Gongmeister that I am!

Yes they all jumped, but then they felt calmed by the ancient warmth of the microtones and the overall deep tone which we had tested so many gongs to find.

If you have different people coming together in a group -- people of different countries, habits, and temperaments -- it is very important that you space them right, that they have enough space to live their own life. They should come together at certain times in a certain way. They should join in some kind of ritual which helps to build the harmony of the whole. If they are too close together, they begin to rub against each other and conflicts arise -- discords instead of a dissonant harmony.

Much hammering is needed to produce a greatly resonant metal gong, to change a long-held habit of the mind or emotions, or to break down the psychic hold of an ego built on a foundation of insecurity, frustration, and fear.


Next Step: Learning to play your gong.


"The siting of a cesspit was of great importance as seepage of pollutants into drinking water was a constant hazard. Ail too often the simple rules of hygiene were ignored by ordinary households and the dumping of sewage near water supplies undoubtedly contributed to the epidemics of plague, etc. which decimated many medieval villages. The Black Death forced people to change their habits and rules were introduced in towns forcing people to dig cesspits. These were emptied periodically by ''gongfermers'' or 'night men' who were highly paid for this unpleasant duty. Some cesspits were so large that it took several nights to empty them and one under Newgate Gaol in 1281 took 13 men 5 nights to clear. In the early days the waste was taken outside the town boundaries and often sold to farmers as a fertiliser. Eventually, however, the amount became so great that it was emptied into the nearest river in the forlorn hope that it would be dispersed elsewhere. Even today, this practice is carried on by a number of water authorities.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 03:17:58 PM EST
Ah early members of the Military/industrial complex. Gongfermers main product was Saltpeter, a constituent of Gunpowder. Which was rendered down from human waste.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 03:41:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No shit! ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 01:02:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is that last picture, a picture of your gong?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 03:37:15 PM EST
It's similar.  Mine's a wind gong (I have discovered) with those marks across it, a central area surrounded by another (like a target), and then those scar marks, pits, pips, dents...

I'm intrigued now by the idea that dissonance is part of the sound world...where it works...something to do with the golden rule working out at 1.6 or something and that being a diminished minor 6th or suchlike...

You can certainly whack a gong and make it sound horrible...grating...which is part of the gong's many possibilities.  But I think I hit it sweet--though hard--at the airport.  The wind gongs give offer a crackly shimmer (hence the name...more like thunder gongs but not as heavy) which melts into the tone, so KRRRRRKKKKGGGGONNNNNNNNNGGGGGG!...

How are your bleepy frenzy turbo driven pieces coming along?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 04:15:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well they have been on hold for the past week, as i've been laid out with what the doctor called facial sinusitus. which has severely limited my computer time. I can only look at a computer with the lights turned right down to the minimum without blinding headaches and the urge to vomit.

I've got three about three quaters done, and a couple more part way. I'll be bunging bleepyness in the post as soon as its ready

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 04:25:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a physician I recommend a darkened room and...

...a gong.


A darkened room and...a good few hours re-living the highlights of your music collection.  Ahhhh!

btw, Izzy sent me a telepathic message saying she wants to see the photos of you with dreadlocks and bovver boots.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 04:41:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now photos of that are remarkably hard to come by ;-)

I do have a photo of me with a shaved head wearing a dress and Docs somewhere from a fancy dress party. if you're really desperate.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 05:03:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I love Gongs. Many years ago I went for one week to Burgundy, at a castle, for a overtone seminar. However, I was not able to really produce overtones. But the highlight of the week were huge gongs which they showed us how to play. I loved doing that. It is amazing what sounds that disk is able to produce. I loved playing the gong for hours - the whole body started to vibrate, I was getting really high, floating around. :-)
by Fran on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 03:41:21 PM EST
I was telling a friend about my new gong and he said, "We had a woman who came to play with our group a while back.  She brought her gongs.  Lovely sound, really excellent.  She does gong therapy."

"What, as a job?"

"Well, I don't know if she makes a living out of it.  She probably has another job.  Imagine, though, if you could make your living out of playing gongs."

Check out this room full of gongs!  I could entertain myself with those for a couple of weeks, no problem.

The woman who plays gongs has revamped a car that was originally for disabled people; she uses the rear ramp to push up her gong stands with gongs attached.  I'm hoping to hear how she plays, maybe ask for lessons...I'm not sure if it's possible to have lessons on the gong, but I'm also sure there are techniques.  I read of one where you touch the gong before hitting it, you touch it so softly that no noise comes out but yet you set up resonances that will play out when you hit it.  The technique is "very hard", apparently--I can well imagine!


Hope things are going well for you, Fran!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 04:36:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I very possibly know this woman. If it's not her, I certainly know someone very like her.

Somewhat inevitably perhaps, there's also this.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 09:52:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You need a gong.  All that "whoo, we're hippies!" nonsense is, I think, come on!  It's okay; it's a nicer and friendlier version of "I'll go with the flow, don't make me embarrasssed"...hey, you live in the land of the faeries!  Imagine a bunch of murkans honestly disconsolate because although they understand that Jesus is coming soon, and times are always hard for the chosen, and God is understandably harsh on gays and unmarried mothers, yes they under...

...and then imagine a field full of the same people listening to...a gong.

They;ll be much less irritating, we'll have a transfer of wealth going on, from "them" to..."us"...and yeah, it'll get hijacked, but each time it pushes people to...commune...to strip down and make things simpler...


I'm a big fan of LESS WAR.

Rant rant! :P

Once I know who she is, I'll let you know, see if there's a connection.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 10:01:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rg, here I also would like to thank you for your diary, which made me remember that week playing with gongs. I don't know why I forgot about it, but it is such a nice memory.

I can absolutely believe that gong therapy works - as I remember that every cell in my body reacted on the vibrations.

And thanks, yes things are going well for me, exploring some new things. :-)

And I think someday I will get myself my own gong!!!!!!

by Fran on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 09:27:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, forgot - I even had a dream about gongs last night. :-)
by Fran on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 09:28:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wow that sounds interesting, especially in a old castle...

i google 'sympathetic resonance' and got this wiki page, which i hope you'll find as fascinating as i did.

Sympathetic resonance is a harmonic phenomenon wherein a frequency or note will start resonating in 'sympathy' with another, not due to any external agency. Refer sympathetic strings as a specific case in point. Sympathetic resonance is overtone harmonics by any other name. Overtone singing of the Himalaya is another example. The effect is most often heard in strings when the fundamental frequency is in unison or an octave lower or higher than the catalyst note or frequency, although it can occur for other intervals such as a perfect fifth with less effect.
Lewcock et al.(2006) states that:
The property of sympathetic vibration is encountered in its direct form in room acoustics in the rattling of window panes, light shades and movable panels in the presence of very loud sounds, such as may occasionally be produced by a full organ. As these things rattle (or even if they do not audibly rattle) sound energy is being converted into mechanical energy, and so the sound is absorbed. Wood panelling and anything else that is lightweight and relatively unrestrained have the same effect. Absorptivity is at its highest at the resonant frequency, usually near or below 100 Hz. (NB: original quotation not meta-enhanced.)
Arden Wilken on his website provides a significant example of the power of sympathetic resonance:
The power of resonance can be seen dramatically in what occurred in 1940 to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in the State of Washington, USA. The wind created a tone as it blew across the valley, which happened to be the natural frequency of the bridge itself. This resonance created by the wind led to the total collapse of the bridge.

A film of the bridge in the process of collapsing showed it undulating wildly in a continuous wave, appearing to be made out of ribbon instead of concrete and steel. The wind and the bridge sang together in sympathetic resonance. In this case, unfortunately, it was the destruction of the bridge because it could not incorporate the vibration.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 02:50:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the link melo. I knew that soldiers were had to walk in individual stile over a bridge because of the resonance, but I did not know about the wind being able to collapse a bride because of resonance.
by Fran on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 09:30:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
great to see you back, rg!

lovely pix, too.

ging your gong for ever, and ever and ever.

my grannie used to bang a gong for dinner time, as she had a little hotel in wimbledon...

'evening mr thornton' (25 years living there and still 'mr thornton'!)

good old grannie, with her aga.

i used to beg to be the one to whack the gong, and announce the good news of meat'n'2 veg.

amsterdam looks just like i remember it...

cool beans

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 03:51:47 PM EST
Have you ever heard the chinese "opera" gongs?  You hit them and they go GOINK! with a rise of a semitone or so in the note.  I always imagine those when I think of small hotels calling people to dinner.


Dinner time!

Or was your granny's a deep and profound call to dinner?


Dinner.  Is served.


And everyone blissed out as they wandered trancelike to the dining room...


And then there'd be you giving it WHACK WHACK WHACK GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 04:39:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
no, it was a modest 9" diameter, but it was a lovely coppery bronze colour, and winnie, the cockney cleaning lady, always with a fag hanging from her mouth, used to keep it shiny as could be.

a room full of gongs....oh man..

i bet they'd set each other all off....

bells have a similar fascination...

and so to this:

The Rife machine - The beginning of frequency treatment in energetic medicine.

The Rife device was developed by Dr. Royal R. Rife in the 1930s. The Rife machine uses a variable frequency, pulsed radio transmitter to produce mechanical resonance within the cells of the physical body (James E. Bare D.C.). The Rife machine was, in its time, a pioneering front-runner for what today is the basis of energetic medicine.

Royal Rife discovered he could use specific electro-magnetic frequencies to kill a bacteria or viruses without causing damage to the surrounding tissue. The Rife machines utilizes the law of resonance and produces possible health benefits for varied diseases, both chronic and infectious. Though the first Rife machines were used on diseases such as tuberculosis, arthritis, and ulcers, its more commonly know for its use on cancer, described by authors such as Barry Lynes, as "the cancer cure that worked."

How Rife works

Rife machines work on the principle of sympathetic resonance, which states that if there are two similar objects and one of them is vibrating, the other will begin to vibrate as well, even if they are not touching. In the same way that a sound wave can induce resonance in a crystal glass and ultra-sound can be used to destroy gall-stones, Dr. Rife's instrument uses sympathetic resonance to physically vibrate the cells of the parasite resulting in possible elimination.

Vibration between two objects can be seen in everyday life, from a tuning fork to a guitar string. The destructive capabilities of resonance have been widely demonstrated, for example when an opera singer hits a particular note and breaks a glass. In this instance the musical tone sets the glass in motion, and as the motion builds the glass shatters. The pulsed wave used in the Rife system produces a mechanical vibration, whereby the low amplitude input leads to a large amplitude vibration in the target. If the induced resonant vibration is intense enough, the target cell, tissue, or molecule will be destroyed.

or this:

Perhaps you've had the opportunity of hearing a concert pianist perform on a
grand piano at a recital and noticed him doing something with his feet. Every good
instrument has two or three pedals, the most important of which -- the sustaining pedal  --
raises the felt dampers on the piano's many strings all at once. Because of this,
the strings may continue to sound even after the pianist has taken his fingers off the keys.
This very ingenious mechanism makes it possible to, for example, transform
the notes of an arpeggio--which sound in sequence, into a rich
composite chord, the notes of which sound all at the same time. This difference
between one-at-a-time and all-at-once is, like the difference between
sound and silence itself, one of the primary features shared by
the musics of all world cultures:

In this way, the sustaining pedal gives the piano something like a built-in echo chamber; it is what allows an individual performer to create a truly remarkable sense of space of almost orchestral proportions. As is frequently the case with everyday miracles, however, I feel that many classical musicians have in a way come to take this magnificent pedal technology somewhat for granted. But for those of us, who, like myself,
are more philosophically inclined and rather less gifted in playing our Bartók and Bach,
it is still possible to sit at the keyboard and ponder this uniquely mysterious movement.
We hear time -- or melody -- folding into pure space -- or harmony. In a way, this is
much like a colorful thread rolling itself up into a skein. One cannot help feeling
that something very profound is being revealed to us, but what exactly? We have this
relationship between:

                  time / space; melody / harmony.

Pondering this, like Rilke said, we are carried to a place "where all language ends,"
and where thought must naturally come to a stop.

just one more: ibid

A Play of Words and their Origins

In English, the word "sympathy"suggests a 'feeling with' or sharing something
of the emotion and experience of another. In other languages of Indo-European origin,
the adjective form, sympathetic, also implies 'one who is capable of this', as in
a friend who can not only be counted upon, but also who 'reads' our feelings without
having to say a single word. Like the Italians say, 'molto simpatico', or in Dutch,
'heel erg sympatiek,' both literally meaning, very sympathetic.  Sympathetic in this
sense might be used to describe not only a person, but also, for example, something
less tangible, like a way of doing music or poetry. Perhaps we could say that this
is more than merely like or dislike, but rather a kind of deeply shared resonance or
mutual affinity. So instead of seeing the world as composed of static, isolated objects,
we are now entering a world of movements which merge and interpenetrate one another.
This naturally brings us back to musical instruments, both in actuality and as metaphor.
As they say very charmingly in German, 'mit schwingen', or literally, 'to swing
together with,' like two strings which move perfectly together. Rilke, the great
master of image-as-movement, awakens in us this very idea in the famous
Love Song which begins his New Poems:

     "And yet everything which touches us, you and me,
      takes us together like a single bow,
      drawing out from two strings but one voice."

Sympathy. Mitschwingen. Moving together. Eight centuries before the Europe of Rilke,
the spiritual teacher and seer Mechtild of Magdeburg suggested something very
similar, only still more general:

     "And all strings
     Which are touched in Love
      Must sound."

So, we see that a great deal is implied in the 'affinity' or 'moving together with'
which characterizes sympathy. Especially when sympathy moves on in depth and
subtlety to compassion which we might describe, following Jiddu Krishnamurti, as
'seeing the other in myself.' In this context, we might think of this as a kind of resonance
which is essentially selfless, or a 'swinging with' the whole of life. This is why,
in the poem, the performer is utterly without movement; he is there not so much
to play his own song but more as an instrument  which manifests the voices he
hears around him.

The Poet as Beat-up Piano

Indeed, the mysterious world of sound and vibrating bodies demonstrates to us
in the most directly perceptible of ways that aspects of our consciousness as
complex as sympathy and compassion are incipiently already present in something
as simple as a single silent string. At the same time, it brings out an important limitation--
some might say, a tragic flaw, of the current electronic and computer technology.
I'll return to this last point briefly by way of conclusion.

In the spirit not of the Academy, but of true Phythagorians, pondering together
under starry night skies the significance of rhythm, mode and interval, I've sketched
out below in musical notation a simple experiment you might want to perform. What
I've done is to take, so to speak, the pebbles dropping in dry sand or quiet water above
and stepped them into a more abstract representation. But the idea is still that it is always
better to experience an acoustic principle first hand, instead of just thinking about
it intellectually. Then when we do think about it, our thought is perhaps rooted in
something deeper than mere numbers or what we see on the screen. To bring
out the difference, let me first introduce the sound experiment with
a little story:

Once, a number of years ago, a young boy visited a studio I was working
in at the time in the Netherlands. I had been out in the forest all day with his father,
a Dutch sod farmer, clearing a tangle of Douglas Fir windfall after a freak fall storm.
As we were coming inside, a bit cold and tired, the boy saw a shiny little brass
hunting trumpet I had laid out on top of an old grand piano that was standing in
the corner. (Personally, I don't play the piano much anymore, although I do
like to compose for it, and, if I can, have an instrument around simply for company.)
I handed the boy the trumpet, which wasn't much more than six feet of hammered
brass tubing with a mouth piece at one end, and told him to give it a loud blow.
Which he did. Then I said, "Listen to this!" while I pushed the pedals down
and he played another loud note. I didn't bother opening up the keyboard cover.
He was amazed. So was his father, who was watching somewhat anxiously
at a distance. How could it be, he thought, that the piano echoed, or reflected,
like a mirror made of sound, the different and yet similar sound of the trumpet.
But, of course, the trumpet was big or loud, while the piano's reflection was quite small
or soft. It was this difference of perspective that gave the sound such a great sense
of space, and which dumbstruck the boy. It was as if we were standing together,
all three of us, in an immense cathedral or concert hall.

A physicist calls this the principle of sympathetic resonance: two orders of similar
movement which merge to form a third which reflects in a unique way both. Notice
that the strings must be perfectly quiet for this to take place. And free. That is,
not impeded in any way.

how have i lived so long gongless?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 02:42:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Re the first quote, I love the idea but I did check the good doctor's CV and found the following:


Re the piano, I'm a "loud pedal" rock of a piano player...too heavy!  When I learned some of the Goldberg Variations, I left pedals alone--no sustain--coz Bach had no sustain pedal...well, he was writing for the harpsichord, a whole nuther thing...the point being that the smear you get with the sustain pedal is...wunnerful but, like reverb on the voice, it can give an "everything sounds the same" effect...when I use it.

There are some piano pieces by (I think it is) Ligeti which use the concept of "playing" a note that is already being held down, so you're playing the resonances off against the new notes.  Not easy to play and for my ears difficult to hear.


Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 04:54:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a friend who writes opera and hosts salons. (That's what she calls them.)

As a call to arms after supper, she has a habit of thwacking her ethnic gong.

It's very loud and goes


Only a couple of octaves lower than that.

Lovely. I want one.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 04:16:30 PM EST
Those huge beasties that sing LOW!  Four hundred euros...three hunnert quids.  Not much for the pleasure of


Plus you can do a long intro section off around the edges.  I imagine that a larger gong has more subtle resonances from the simple relationship

size of beater:size of gong

'Tis amazing how I have that urge to go BANG BANG BANG BANG!  Hardly giving time to all the microtones as they shimmer out against each other...I have to say that mine has some very unromantic tonal edges that sound electrical more than anything, and of course it's a metal plate, full of fascinating...tones; check out the guy's collection in the link I put on my reply to Fran.  Fuggedabout rooms full of guitars; a room full of gongs, some of those huge beasts, then hitting one after the other on your favourite sweet spot, round the room until, like Fran, you're spinning, floating, vibrating...

How about hitting this one on its many sweet spots?  And then the universe opened...

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 04:49:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No Ken richmond pose?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 05:28:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good to see you back and that is a fantastic diary! Somewhere in the middle I began to feel that life was not just worth living but essentially fine and invigorating, and I looked at the Munttower against the clouds and felt happy with human ingenuity. I think your gong is reverberating in a widening circle over Europe, the world, across the universe.

Gong - one of my favourite bands back in the day.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 04:21:11 PM EST
Whenever I think of the band, I think of a guy and his mate, back when we were fourteen, who put out a single--we were jealous!  It involved one of them hitting tupperware containers and the other shouting something.  They were huge Gong fans, but I cannot recall ever hearing a note from the band.

Luckily this har computer has its sound re-installed, it has flash, and so later this evening I will wander the youtube hallways and listen to some tracks.

As for the dam of the hamsters, it's my favourite place, human ingenuity indeed, and the fact that some people think it's "okay", but prefer other places...demonstrates the...variability of human responses.

How to explain how much I like the...windows?  So much wider than ours, so much more glass in the glass to brick ratio.  And the policewomen on horses.  Oooh!  The world's a scary place, terrible th--what's that noise?  Ah, the clip clop of hooves.

And the ambulances that play the major fifth (or is it the lower fourth?) instead of our grating neenaw?

And where are the Amsterdam seagulls?  Has there been a cull?  There were a few black-headed gulls near the station, but...all the others...where they be?

And the lights on the bridges.  Fairy land for the price of about a hundred light bulbs.

And beers at 2 euros or 4 euros.  When I got back to England the guy said, "That'll be two pounds seventy."  I couldn't work out whether that was a lot or not.  I was confused by those tiny numbers.

And is it just me or is there more traffic?

Oh, and I love seeing senior professional types in their posh suits and their thin leather briefcases....cycling along the street.  The long legs of the cyclists, none of that crouched over mountain bike posture, everyone elevated, high handlebars...

...did I mention our vondel in the vondelpark?

...and hey!  I must mention my favourite statue, of which I can only find a single tiny picture on the web.

A lady in a hat on a horse.  So much more...elegant than some military chap who killed people.


Omsterdom.  And they speak onglish, just like me!  They also speak dutch, like German but more fruity.  (To my ears.)

We were in a bar, ordering some food.  One of the items in a salad was...well it wasn't exactly "zon droge tomaten" but it was close.

"Can you guess what that is?" the waitress said.

I couldn't.

Sun-dried tomatoes.

And right in the centre of Dam square there is...that white monolith...urgh!  And yet, there it is in front of, yes, Ze Cocaine Hotel (rooms 700 euros a night--and up!), and a minute from...various other places...

And all due to sink beneath the waves if the sea keeps rising.

And most people would prefer Orlando.

Not to mention...well...there's way too much to mention.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 05:12:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah one of the sounds that was background music to the mid eighties for me. Someone I knew had laid their hands on a pile of their vinyl.

Here & now were another sound from the same time (Their album Fantasy Shift has the best version of The Man Who Sold The World ever (the Bowie and Nirvana versions are just too slow comparatively)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 4th, 2007 at 07:31:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Weird...but I don't think I have ever heard of Gong...probably heard a song or two somewhere/sometime...but don't know of them. How did I miss them??

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Thu Jun 7th, 2007 at 11:50:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They were known but under the radar. I don't think they ever got promoted in the States.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jun 7th, 2007 at 12:06:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
coolest steel percussion instrument I have ever heard -- beautiful tone.  I think the company stopped making them though...  a lovely haunting instrument.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 03:16:37 AM EST
No! I have one! I bought it a few years ago.

It's in the spare room next to the djembe, the cajon, the doumbek, the surdo (actually the surdo is in the living room while I'm trying to clear out the spare room), the repenique and the dhol.

So. Unfortunately. No room for a gong at the moment.

Ah well.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 06:03:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's always room for a gong.  Check out the ceiling.  Two hooks, a long piece of twine....


Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 09:14:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

oo I am jealous.  what tuning?

I followed up with Google -- can't resist, do they have 12 step programmes for information junkies? -- and the Swiss team that makes them is now (per web site) taking orders only in the month of April, you have to come to Switzerland in person, etc.

I keep hoping one will show up on ebay :-)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Wed Jun 6th, 2007 at 03:39:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sort of a C Penta - C D E G A C' D' G'. The major third and sixth give it a very open, airy sound.

You can also sing into it. (Although I don't, usually.)

I got mine at a Womad festival.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 6th, 2007 at 06:23:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mickey Hart used a gong when the Grateful Dead played Dark star back in the late 60s and early 70s. Want to check it out? Listen to "Live Dead" version of Dark Star and you will hear Mickey playing the gong...incredible!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 07:28:51 AM EST
I couldn't help myself...this is a fun diary that slipped away a bit quick...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Thu Jun 7th, 2007 at 07:42:26 AM EST
Today, I wanted to get another beater for my gong.

"Hi," I said to the bloke who runs the percussion shop down the road.  "I'm looking for a beater, for a gong."

"I haven't got many in, I'm afraid."  He's had this shop for years.  Lovely bloke.  "I've got some gongs on order."

"I just bought one in Amsterdam."

"Ah yes, I forgot you were going."

"You ever tried a paiste gong?"

"Did you try one?"


"Good sound?"

"Yeah.  Interesting."

"How much was it?"

"A hundred and ninety eight euros."

"That's a good price!  All of I've got at the moment is this tibetan gong."

?  A tibetan gong?  He looked towards the ground.  There it was.

There was no stand, the metal is darker, but there are the engravings, and it has the nipple at the centre.

"It's probably not from Tibet," he said.  "It's almost impossible to find those now.  This one's from India."

"How much is it?"

"A hundred and twenty."

"Can I have a go?"

"Be my guest."

I picked it up, picked up a beater, hit it....sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!  

"Beautiful tone," he said.  "They're like that, the indian gongs.  They use them in the temples."

Turns out the engravings are prayers.

"Do you know what they say?" I asked.


"Maybe they say, 'I will boil your enemies testicles in cheap gin.'"

Ho ho.  Gonnnnnnggggggg.  Lovely sound.

"I've got another one, smaller," he said.

Another tibetan gong?  He fished around, found it.  It was a bit more than a hand across.  It, too, had engravings.  I hit it.  Gentle, sweet.  Luvverly!

"How much is this one?"

"Fifty five.  That's got a lovely sound too.  That's rare with a small gong."

Overtones!  S'allabhat overtones, mate.  Cheers Bob, I'll hit some vibrations over to you in Switzerland this evening.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Jun 7th, 2007 at 09:19:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Thu Jun 7th, 2007 at 09:29:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I see now there is a whole lot more fun going on in Amsterdam about which I had absolutely no idea! Had I known you would have spontaneously strolled your way into a Quest for the Gong, I could have tipped you on the Chinese nearby the Dam. But you apparently found it, so all is well, and you're one happy geezer all gong ho (yuck yuck) about the new acquisition.

The Schiphol anecdote had me laughing. I could just picture it with all the people turning around..

Brilliant piece of writing; you should go more often to Amsterdam if it can inspires you like this!!

Oh, and the orangutan in Artis always scares the BeeGees out of me. I can't help it. After the lion, I don't think I know an animal that is similarly capable to rattle me. Gorillas, not so much. Orangutan, oh dear.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jun 7th, 2007 at 11:24:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Amsterdam!  Have I told you before that--thanks to various laws in place in The Netherlands--I discovered that sometime in the 18th century I used to be...a town planner for some middling size place, probably Amsterdam sized (the original centre I mean.)  It just hit me that first morning: I love the construction.  The gong trip was my fourth, and I'm oh-so-slowly getting my directions.  Where I live, south is "towards the sea" and north is "away from the sea."  As Centraal station is "where the sea is", I psychologically think of that as south, whereas in fact it's sort of north-north-east (I think!)...

...this was the first time I got the hang of Dam Square -> Flower Market -> Leidseplein, with Rokin running across...first time I've used the trams...and it occured to me that, of course, the bridges are...in various locations, making walks endlessly enjoyable and confusing...

...and again, this time, the voice in my head: "This place is so well...designed!"  I love the windows, the canals, the houses leaning at odd angles.  And I very much enjoy the approach of the Amsterdammers I've met: it's a tourist town, but it's also beautiful, calming, an adult theme park (for adults who don't mind grown up pleasures, such as Hans Dulfer's band), and--you're not going to like this, but--they enjoy smoking, no doubt about it...well...clearly not everyone loves it (cough! Nomad cough!)...

...yes, back in the eighteenth century (says the voice in my head, with its fingers crossed behind its back), I was a town planner...in China.

Nowhere near the coast, but maybe somewhere with water.  Or maybe somewhere that didn't have water and that explains one of my fascinations with the place.  The water affects the light...

...so, a chinese bureaucrat in charge of town planning back in the eighteenth century...hmmm...who maybe spent his evenings playing a gong for relaxation.


The scariest animal I saw in the zoo was the black leopard.  I thought it was a puma; it was sitting on a log staring at me.  

In another state of concentration I would have got lost in that stare; but I wasn't in another state of concentration so I thought: "Imagine meeting that in a wood.  Yoinks!"  A bit of a chill for a moment, and then on to the next...cage.

So thanks for all your tips, mate!  'Twould be great to wander round the place with your goodself, see it through your eyes too.  But alas and alack you have been forced to go to the southernmost part of Africa, forced! by your natural genius and your good nature to enjoy yourself, so enjoy and thanks again!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Jun 7th, 2007 at 01:10:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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