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Cymbal Setup of the Year!

23, May 2007
Johannes Welsch Gong-Cymbal setup is a 22 piece Orchestral Sound Creation Series rhythm and sound masterpiece!

Many drummers have added a Gong to their setup, mainly for visual reasons and brief sound effects. However, I use Gongs to achieve the needed dynamics, rhythm and sound for my entire performances, and I often team up with artists who play singing bowls because the two sounds (gongs and bowls) are catalysts for each other.

When preparing a performance I give great attention to the chamber because it becomes part of the instrument (I use the Sound Creation Series by Paiste). The gong itself is like a string of an acoustic guitar - and just like the string needs the wooden body to amplify its vibration so does the gong need an impressive sounding chamber. So, most often I find myself in churches and similar structures. The photo was taken at the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center in Columbia, Maryland. The almost circular space with wooden walls and dome shaped ceiling has a warm and soft acoustic. Bill and I recorded an album entitled "Earth and Sky" which is reminiscent of our perfomance: peaceful and meditative.

Drums and gongs are deeply related: in both cases we strike a membrane with either a stick or a mallet. Gongs can give you the sustain which drums are missing. It is difficult to record gongs or, I should say, to play them back on a stereo. How could a 20'' speaker ever recreate the sound of a 5' gong? So it is very much a live experience. Technically speaking the gong allows me to play with two aspects of sound: dynamic range and frequency spectrum. I typically develop soundscapes which come out of and return to silence. While the amplitude increases the gong unfolds its full frequency spectrum, beginning with low frequencies (fundamental) and subsequently developing those beautiful overtones (harmonics).
- Johannes Welsch

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