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Gongs and Tam-Tams: A Guide for Percussionists, Drummers, and Sound Healers by Philip McNamara

Philip McNamara


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Gongs and Tam-Tams: A Guide for Percussionists, Drummers, and Sound Healers is intended for anyone interested in gongs, from players through to sound healers, including composers, music arrangers, and students of music, metallurgy, and percussion history.

A note of exclamation and thanks from a Gongs Unlimited customer and gong player who called and bought this book: "The book you sent is GREAT! I can't stop reading it and I hope Philip McNamara publishes the sequel soon!!!" (No exclamation points were added by us to this review. They occurred naturally and spontaneously.)

Phillip McNamara
was born in Lancashire, UK in 1962. Although having an interest in music and gaining an 'O' Level in History and Appreciation of Music, his academic studies led him to achieving an Honours Degree in Applied Chemistry from Sheffield Polytechnic. Subsequent employment included working as a lab assistant in the NHS, a radiochemist with the Central Electricity Generating Board, a radiation protection adviser with Nuclear Electric and British Energy and latterly, as a Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser with EDF Energy.

A lifelong interest in gongs and tam-tams developed from an early age whilst listening to classical music and attending concerts by the Halle and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras. One particular percussion instrument caught his attention, often being used at dramatic moments in the music to underpin a climax, round, off a passage or section of the score, or quietly add to a brooding atmosphere. Reading of the scores revealed this instrument to be a 'tam-tam' though some scores referred to it as a 'gong'. Curiously, some scores had more than one, being referred to as gongs and tam- tams in the same piece! Also, different orchestras had different sounding tam-tams, often dependent on what part of the world the orchestra came from. These apparent differences eventually led him to research the subject though little was available in the beginning, apart from sections in books written by the famous percussionist James Blades and the principle percussionist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, James Holland.

Phil finally purchased his first gong in 1985 and had collected several by 1999. In 2010 he discovered a new use for gongs - healing, using the sonorous properties of the gong. He studied Sound Healing with gongs with Sheila Whittaker and the College of Sound Healing, graduating as a Gong Practitioner in 2011. His current collection of gongs has grown considerably and includes examples from different manufacturers as well as discontinued, but still sought after ranges from the Paiste company. Many of these gongs were purchased specifically for this book so that he had first-hand experience of their physical and acoustic properties. Phil currently lives near the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire, UK with his wife and young son.

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