There exists in this sweet old world something called a “gong bath,” which is very much what it sounds like — having your knackered, spent-by-the-modern-world self literally washed in the sounds of a gong or gongs. While you may be arching your eyebrows, there is in fact some science in this, and history, too. The gong has been used for both musical performance and healing alike for centuries and upon centuries, and as for the science, well, it checks out:
“Known as a Gong Bath, the gong creates an ocean of sound that is profoundly relaxing; a state which activates the parasympathetic nervous system to balance the over-amped, over-taxed sympathetic nervous system. Water has often been used as an analogy for the rippling effect of the gong’s vibrations, partially because our bodies are approximately 70 percent water and water serves to conduct sound waves. Like ripples created by a pebble skipped onto a glassy lake, the gong’s sound gently reverberates over, around and through the entire body to calm, relax and soothe. Typically, the listener’s heart rate slows, blood pressure drops and breath is restored to its natural rhythm. The gong induces a holistic resonance in the body and a spontaneous meditative state in the mind, resulting in a sense of expanded awareness and wholeness.”
The Nakatani Gong Orchestra aren’t straight-up gong-bathers — there’s a more forward musical element in play here — but they are a roving gang of gongers that travels all over North and Central America, playing in all manner of congregations but always with their leader, the composer and conductor Nakatani acting as chief gong-knocker. When the NGO appears this Friday at the Asian Arts Initiative — outside, on Pearl Street, as it happens — it’ll be performance as much as workshop, with godlike gongs going off like it’s a percussion sale at the great zen Guitar Center in the sky. Whether or not you’re “bathing” in the gongs, or if you manage to get “gong-clean,” well, that’s between you and your gong.
More info available here.