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Effects Of Gongs On Hearing

John St. Claire

Mar 6, 2023

A literary review

A recent doctoral thesis by Karambir Singh Khalsa at Sophia University studied the  effects of a 50” German gong on anxiety (Khalsa, 2021). Although some changes were noted  they were not highly statistically significant. The study used a recording and participants listened  to it on “the best equipment they had available.” No mention was made of the recording  equipment, type of microphone, its placement, nor the bit size or sample rate of the recording.

The study was designed to minimize differences in the playing experience by having each  subject listen to the exact same recording. Since a cranial nerve connects the eardrum to every  organ in the human body, minus the spleen, externally generated sounds can have profound and  direct effects on internal systems (Gerber, 1998), so this methodology might appear reasonable at  first glance. It may be that the statistically minimal results were due to the idea that profound  changes in state could be accomplished by listening to the sound of a gong; whether through a  phone, quality speakers, cheap computer speakers, ear buds, or headphones. In my experience,  the greatest therapeutic effect from the gong is from the entire body being immersed in the direct  vibrations. 

Dr. Tomatis, a pioneer in audiology, stated that contrary to the standard medical definition  claiming ears were differentiated skin, skin is actually differentiated ear (Thompson, 2000).  Gongs are felt as much as heard, and this component is lacking in a study of listening to a  recording. Even if the sound was reproduced on high quality studio speakers; it is a very different  experience from a 500 pound primary sound source inches from the body. The usefulness of the  proposed study may be in pointing to the understanding that it is the physical vibrations  interacting with the cells of the body which create meaningful and statistically measurable  changes.

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