We've also been gathering material for a spate of new album projects: capturing sounds such as bird song, insects buzzing, waterfalls, wind and rain on our trusty Zoom H5 portable recorder for a sounds of nature project that will also include chimes, bells, singing bowls, flutes, bird whistles and gongs, etc. A violent thunderstorm a couple of weeks back I managed to record direct to my laptop safely ensconced in Monica's Taipei studio! We're also preparing to record a chakra dancing album plus another for a Reiki plus sound healing module we are about to launch here.
Gongs on the train
On recent trips to hold workshops and sound healing sessions in the southern cities of Kaohsiung and Taichung we decided to travel with our gongs and other paraphernalia
by train. Monica doesn't drive and we didn't fancy long multi-hour road trips dodging hoards of pesky motor scooters. So it was the Taiwanese version of the French TGV super-fast trains for us – business class to boot! The only trouble was how to manage the big gongs and their associated stands. We got a lift to the station in Taipei from one of Monica's students and a pickup at the other end. That just left getting them on the train. We had invested in a cool four-wheel trolley that came in handy when we got lost in the station's multi-storey car park. Strict instructions from over-zealous station staff not to use the trolley on the platform were duly ignored and we managed to bundle all our stuff onto the train in double-quick time and settle back for a comfortable wizz through the Taiwan countryside. A repeat performance on our return was equally smooth. But on our second trip back Taipei rail officialdom was waiting for us – absolutely no trolleys permitted on the platform, so we had to carry the whole lot what seemed like miles to the nearest lift!
Into the mountains
We are based on the outskirts of Taipei overlooking an emerald blue river with forest-clad hills and mountains beyond. I do my yoga practice each morning gazing at the peaks and last week we managed to drive to the top of one in a borrowed car, stopping off regularly on our way up the twisty roads to record the flowing rivers and other natural sounds. Much damage from last year's big typhoon was still in evidence – as were the construction trucks we had to dodge as we ascended the 850 metre-peak. Safely back down, we paid a visit to a local gong maker and were invited to take part in a traditional ceremony, sounding massive gamelan-style gongs at his workshop in call and response with a big drum being played in the grounds of a spa hotel across the valley. Amazing experience, although I almost wrenched my wrist using the big heavy gong mallet!
We are currently in the midst of hosting a group gong training programme spread over three weekends - my first serious attempt at teaching apart from some one to one tutoring in London and Brighton. It's going really well, although I'm having to learn not to speak too fast or say too much as Monica has to translate everything into Chinese! Once that's completed it's off to the scenic east coast scouting for retreat locations before returning to England in time for a busy summer programme of gonging related events. More details to come. I'll keep posting UK event details on the Gordon's Gong Soirees Facebook page but also check out the Sonic Blessings website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.