Paiste gongs are handmade symphonic quality gongs that come from generations of experienced gong masters who deeply understand the art of gong making. Every gong is made to exacting specifications. The Planet Gongs, according to the gong makers at Paiste: “resemble Symphonic Gongs in character, but feature a strong fundamental note tuned to represent a natural harmonic series based on the orbital properties of the Sun, the Earth, the Moon and the other planets as calculated by Hans Cousto. Planet Gongs resonate harmonically with the cycles of the cosmos, communicating to us what has been known since antiquity as the “music of the spheres”. Mysterious in sound color, Planet Gongs convey an unusual atmosphere.”
The gongs composition is Nickel Silver which is a metal alloy of copper with nickel and often, but not always, zinc. Nickel Silver is named for its silvery appearance, but contains no elemental silver unless plated. Many alloys fall within the general term of “nickel silver” but they all contain copper and nickel, with some formulations including zinc, antimony, tin, lead or cadmium.
Historically, gongs were among the first musical instruments to be made and played by humans. There are creation myths that honor the gong as the emanation that sounded the earth into being. Their rich resonance, unique sound signature, and responsiveness allow one to deeply experience the remarkable undertones and overtones; tones which represent the Music of the Spheres.
What is the Music of the Spheres
The Music of the Spheres is something that has been written about by poets, writers and visionaries as far back as Pythagoras.
Some of us may only recall Pythagoras and his mathematical Pythagorean Theorem. But delving a little deeper into his life reveals far more than that. It was Pythagoras’ concept that we live in a musical universe. He saw music as number and the cosmos as music. He distinguished three sorts of music in his philosophy: musica instrumentalis, the ordinary music made by plucking the lyre, blowing the pipe, etc; musica humana, the continuous and unheard music made by every human organism, especially the harmonious resonance between the soul and body; and musica mundane, the music made by the cosmos itself, which would come to be known as the Music of the Spheres.
Who hears this music, you may ask? It is said that the sound is in our ears from the very moment of birth and is indistinguishable from its contrary silence. How did Pythagoras know of this sound? He heard it in deep meditation; and according to the tradition of the White Brotherhood (the followers of Pythagoras after his death), some can hear and comprehend the celestial harmonies. Poets through the ages tell us this harmony can be heard by purged ears and by those who are in communion.
This Music of the Spheres was heard by another in the not so distant past; Johannes Kepler (16th – 17th century astronomer). Kepler heard the music of the spheres as a palpable symphony in his ears, just as Pythagoras had. In one of his books, The Harmony of the Universe, Kepler reconciled the elliptical paths of the heavenly bodies and using extreme values and ratios, was able to construe the entire musical scale. He discovered that each of the planets has its own scale and set out to construct a celestial chord to unite the songs of all the planets. Kepler’s great synthesis, the most ambitious and comprehensive description of the Music of the Spheres ever attempted, was completed in 1618.
But it wasn’t until the 1900’s that Hans Cousto, a German mathematician and scientist, gave us the transposition of Kepler’s mathematical formulas for the movement of the planets into audible rhythms and sounds. Cousto used the law of the octave to accomplish this – an integral aspect of the law of harmony. He combined age-old teachings of harmonics with new findings in physics and other sciences. Cousto took these mathematical calculations and transposed them into musical tones. These transposed tones are what you are hearing when you listen to the Paiste Planetary Gongs.
Of interest are the NASA space probe recordings made by Voyager I & II and other probes. The recorded signatures made by the Earth and other planetary bodies as they travel through space have been translated into audible sound. Pythagoras’ “Music of the Spheres” is now an audible reality.
Meditating with the Gongs
So how do the “Music of the Spheres” and the planetary gongs that capture this concept affect us? To answer this, another figure emerges from the mists of time, Hermes Trismegistus, who gave us several universal principles (The Hermetic Tradition) which include the dictum, “As Above, So Below.” What this means to us is that we are a microcosm that is a reflection of the macrocosm. This harmony of the spheres is not just something external us but is our inner music as well.
The planetary gongs offer us an opportunity to remember, to allow their harmonic sounds to not only attune us with the greater cosmic tones, but to also allow them to strike a resonance deep within us and draw forth our own music. They provide an opportunity to touch that inner music which is our birthright and that has the ability to draw us not only into a deep sense of peace but give us a connection between our inner world and the larger world. A meditation with the planetary gongs offers us a moment to experience a greater sense of place in the cosmic scheme… which is at its core a harmonic and musical universe.
Let these gongs draw you into your song that you have come here to sing!!