Burmese/Thai Gongs

Gongs from Burma (or Myanmar as it is now known) have a long history and Burma is often quoted as being the beginnings of gong making in South-East Asia along with China, Java and Amman.

The Burmese gong has influenced other gong types in this region and is very similar to those found in Thailand, so they are often grouped together. Although there are several types of Burmese gong, the most common are the temple gongs and the triangular-shaped Kyeezee or 'spinning' gong.

The shape of the Burmese gong is one of the most recognisable. They are normally made from bronze and have a prominent round boss sitting on a slightly convex curving face with the edge of the boss being slightly recessed. There is a prominent lip moving over to a gently inwardly sloping rim which is deep – usually 1.5" (3cm) to 5" (12cm) depending on the size of the gong. The oxidised layer is left on the metal and can either be slate grey, black or bottle green in colour. The oxidised layer is often scraped to reveal various patterns, with lotus flower petals or star flower mandala patterns being the most common.

Over the past fifteen years or so, Burmese gongs have become much more widely available in the West. This is partly due to the withdrawal of the tuned gongs made by Paiste and the affordability of the Burmese gong. Having said that, the prices are now rising and they are becoming quite expensive.

One thing to bear in mind when playing these gongs is that they need to be played with padded beaters and played quietly. They are cast gongs and can crack if played with a hard beater or struck with any force. The sound of the gong is a lovely low 'dong' with little overtones and no splash. The decay is fairly short lived and lasts the same length of time whether struck forte or piano.

The 'Kyeezee' is a triangular-shaped piece of bronze or brass, often decorated and carved and quite thick in cross-section. It is suspended on a cord at its mid point. When it is struck, it has a piercing bell-like tone and spinning the Kyeezee gives a warbling effect. They are often used in meditation.

Both Zildjian and UFIP make their own versions of the Kyeezee called 'Burmese Bells'.

Burmese / Thai Gong