Paiste, more than any other, is associated with the production of some of the world's finest gongs
Paiste (pronounced Pie-stee) have been making gongs since the 1940s at their factory in Schacht-Audorf in north Germany. They are extensively used in British and European orchestras as well as by rock groups. They are particularly favoured by sound therapists due to the high quality workmanship and the purity of the metals used in their alloys. Paiste have extensive knowledge of the properties of alloys and production techniques for making the sheets of metal from which the gongs are made.
Paiste produce or have produced several different ranges of gongs and tam-tams. They are made from a brass known as nickel silver to a formula of 63% copper, 25% zinc and 12% nickel.
Their main range consists of the Symphonic Gong (tam-tam) in diameters from 20” (50cm) up to 40" (100cm) plus 50” (127 cm), 60" (152cm) and the Worlds largest commercially produced gong at 80" (203cm)! These gongs are characterised by their sustained loud crash, full of harmonics and frequencies, and their quiet booming fundamental notes, especially in the larger sizes. They are the favoured gongs for many UK and European symphony orchestras and the preferred gongs of many Sound Healers due to their high quality metal and workmanship.
In the 1980s, Paiste started to develop a range of Planet Gongs aimed at sound healing and meditation practitioners. In appearance they look just like Symphonic Gongs, but when they are played they have a much stronger fundamental tone. This fundamental tone is tuned to a specific pitch based on a natural harmonic series derived from the orbital properties of the Sun, Moon, Earth and other planets and planetoids in our Solar System. These frequencies were calculated by the Swiss mathematician Hans Cousto and explained in his book The Cosmic Octave – the Origin of Harmony The gongs themselves are actually tuned an octave below Cousto's frequencies. In reality, the tuning is not that stable and is rapidly lost, especially by overplaying.
Sound Creation Gongs
The Sound Creation Gong range was developed during the 1970's and early 1980's. Initially, a set of ten 'proto' or prototype gongs were created as a result of these early experiments. These prototypes were then presented to various audiences in seminars, music schools etc who then filled in questionnaires asking them to describe a representation of the sound. The gongs were then marketed according to the groupings of these sounds and other esoteric feelings, using descriptions like 'Sun', 'Moon', 'Fire' etc. The words used by Paiste to describe the gongs in their catalogues are 'unimaginable, esoteric and mysterious'. The original range consisted of ten gongs - Sun, Fire, Earth (4 sizes), Water, Peace, Moon, Fight, Head Chakra, Chest Chakra and Abdomen. At the present time, only the four 'Earth' gongs plus the Nos. 8, 9 and 10 'Chakra' gongs are available.
Paiste also used to produce a ranged of tuned or bossed gongs. The range was spread over four-and-a-half octaves ranging from C2 to F6 and diameters from 36" (91cm) down to 6" (15cm). The tuning was to either 440 or 442Hz A. Each gong had a specific fundamental note, very bell-like but had a tendency to 'splash' when played above forte. Paiste called this 'cushioning softly by complimentary gong harmonics'. Hence, when they were played loudly, they tended to sound more like tam-tams than tuned gongs. There were also some flat faced tuned gongs produced which were intended to be played horizontally like a Burmese Gong Play. The range is no longer available due to the limited repertoire for tuned gongs in orchestral works and the availability of cheaper tuned gongs from Thailand.