A deafening sound of gongs

Vocalism principle

Gong produces sound due to the vibration caused by a mallet beating its center part. Though it is made simply by a piece of bronze, different sizes, percussion locations, and materials can produce different pitch and sounds, which is analyzed as follows:

Vocalism principle of a gong
Big and small

Big gong

Its sounds are deep, while its aftersounds linger for a long time. One can beat a big gong by different ways, such as releasing sounds, edge sounds, or concealing sounds. It is often used to indicate the transition of an opera or the appearance of a major role.
Small gong
Its sounds are clear and loud. There are fewer ways to beat a small gong. It is often used in a humorous scene along with other percussion instruments.
Its sound is solid and loud. The belly button cannot only produce loud sounds, but also enhance the effect of suspension and prolong the life of a gong.
Its sounds are higher. If one beats it with too much force, its sounds become worse, while its life will be shortened.
Percussion location
The center produces low sounds. If you beat the center, it will have clear sounds. If you beat the center lightly, it will have deep sounds and long aftersounds.
1/3 diameter
The sound is higher than that of the center. With the same percussion force, the sound here is looser.
2/3 diameter
The further away from the center, the higher frequency and looser sounds. One can beat a gong once, continuously, in the middle, interior, or exterior to create different effects.
of mallet
A hard mallet produces high, clear, and loud sounds. It is suitable for the high pitch of yunluo, as a soft mallet produces too low sounds.
Photo credit: Thunder King of Drums
A soft mallet produces low, soft, and mellow sounds. It shall be adopted or adjusted according to atmosphere.
Photo credit: Thunder King of Drums


Gong is an ancient percussion instrument with shocking effects, which often used in traditional opera. Along with the development of folk opera and the changes of times, gong turns to be more diversified. The appearance and sound of a gong is completely adjusted by a tuner based on his experience and techniques. However, in modern times, gong becomes less and less popular (non-mainstream instrument). Through this International Cyberfair contest, I hope that you can be more aware of gong.

Reference :

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  2. http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/2f/ed/59.html
  3. http://www.baike.com/wiki/低音锣
  4. http://nrch.culture.tw/twpedia.aspx?id=8124
  5. http://www2.cyut.edu.tw/~chimusic/new/tools/percussion/gongs.htm
  6. http://ap6.pccu.edu.tw/Encyclopedia_media/main-art.asp?id=6213



The application of a gong

At ward, gong was often used to command an army. In Han's opera, gong could facilitate a singer to follow the rhythm and stabilize the progress of an opera. When orchestral music is not enough to realize a certain effect, gong can provide satisfying resonance effects. Below is a summary of the traits and usage of gong:

The traits and usage of a gong

Calling the tune

Gong was used by the minorities in southwest region in China at the earliest. Around the second century B.C., along with the increasing cultural exchange among nations, gong was gradually spread to inland. Gong was commonly used at war to call the tune. We can see its application in military from the military idiom of "beat the gongs and withdraw the army".

  Photo credit: Baike.com

Stabilizing rhythm

In performance, a gong can be used to indicate the identity, personality, emotion, or action of a performer or a scene and enhances the completeness and cohesion of action and emotion of an actor.

  Photo credit: JinchengVocational and Technical College Department of theatrical performances students performance report

Starting and end points in an opera or performance

In Han's opera, gong was used to indicate the start and end, connect aria, or imply transition. The sounds of a gong helped a singer to sing allow the rhythm and stabilize the progress of an opera.
  Photo credit: Chinese Opera Festival 

Enhancing intonation

The voice-over and poems in an opera are spoke with rhythm. At the beginning and in the end, or between couplet sentences, gong is used to carry on the previous and open up the following, and enhance rhythm, intonation, and emotion.
  Photo credit: Chinese opera performance demeanor picture

Exaggerating atmosphere and
expressing natural phenomenon

Band accompaniment is often required to create dramatic atmosphere, emotion, and scene, or natural phenomenon like wind and thunder. When orchestra are not enough to realize the effect, gong can give full play of its advantage to exaggerate the atmosphere and create resonance effect.
  Photo credit: Taiyuan Road 


  1. http://baike.baidu.com/view/772364.htm 
  2. http://www.baike.com/wiki/锣
  3. http://www.baike.com/wiki/包锣&prd=so_auto_doc_list