Chinese gongs are not only used to create music. Indeed, over the centuries it has been used for communication, for commemoration of an event and even for healing.
Music has always been part of our lives. And the type of music that is enjoyed by different nations reflects who they are as a culture. That is the reason why there are types of music and musical instruments that are indigenous to a particular country only, and yes, these instruments are often recognized as one that is part of the nation that has brought it about for the world to know of. But of course, even if they are known in one country, they also receive popularity in others. One of these instruments is the gong.
What it is
It is a musical instrument that is shaped like a disk. It can either be big or small, depending on how it is to be used and what sounds you want to come from it. It is a percussion instrument, which means that it produces a sound when it is hit. The object usually used to strike this is the mallet. If you have seen those sticks that strike a drum, the mallet is similar to that. It is like a drumstick with a rounded head. Unlike a drum, however, where you can freely hit any part of its surface area, the gong is usually hit at the center because it is where it vibrates the sound that we so commonly associate with it.
This musical instrument is usually made of the metals bronze or brass, but it has also been known to be made of other metals. The metal it is made of typically reflects what sound it produces. Thus, if you are looking for a specific sound or pitch, it is important that you know what metal would likely produce that sound and purchase a gong that is made of that metal.
This instrument not only varies in the type of metal it is made of, but also how it is constructed. There are said to be three types of this musical tool: the suspended, the bosses and the bowl. The first type refers to the placement of the instrument. As the name implies, it is suspended or elevated. They are also usually flat and disc- shaped. The second type refers to the shape of the instrument, which seemingly looks like a bowl or a wide- spaced bell. Typically, this type rests on a cushion. The third type refers to how its center, where the mallet hits, look like. Like the first type, it is suspended. But unlike the first, it is not entirely flat shaped for its center is propped out.
What its uses are
In China, how they use this musical instrument gives us an insight to their beliefs and their culture. For instance, they use it to communicate to the spirits and encourage these spirits to shield them from harm. It is also used in commemorating an important event or in announcing this event. One need only to strike its center for a number of people to know that there is something important happening. There are also those who believe that it has a healing effect, if it is struck in a way that produces calming and soothing sounds. And of course, this instrument is mainly used for creating and accompanying music. It can set the flavor for the bass tone.
Truly, Chinese gongs are not only appreciated for the music it brings, but also for the insight it gives us into a country’s culture.