Vibrations Beyond The Status Quo by John Shapter

June 7, 2019

In this exciting and wondrous universe in which we exist moment by moment I find we are still bounded by `rules` and norms and conventions. Maybe we should question these if, deep down, we feel uncomfortable within them. There is one such, which I am finding increasingly uncomfortable (no, don`t worry, nothing too personal!). This is the word used to describe how we play the instruments which I am practising with most days. As we touch the gongs and bowls with a mallet, in order to elicit a vibration and a sound, we say we are “STRIKING” them.

If you look up the meaning of the word “strike” , it`s synonyms are words like `hit`, `smack`, `punch`. In a world where we are encouraging love and peace and friendship this description of an action feels totally out of place. I am increasingly seeing the gongs as entities, maybe expressions of our higher selves, as family, as friends and as guides. I like to see my work as encouraging them to speak and to sing. I quite often ask them how they would like to be treated and how I may help them open their voices. I certainly do not wish to be controlling or to force them into action. This is their song not mine.

So, I am trying to find alternative verbal expressions for how we interact with the instruments. To `percuss` is a gentler term (and has therapeutic connotations). To `touch` or `stroke` them is perhaps too careful. Maybe to `converse` with them is too general.

The best sound from these instruments is when the vibrations are allowed to flower, opening like petals, without hearing the initial attack on the surface. So maybe to `open` the instrument has more meaning.

Do you know better??


Words by


John Shapter