French, Italian: gong
Besides the mallet-played instruments, the gong is the metal percussion instrument that provides melodies and an exotic flavor in that section. Unlike the tam-tam the gong has a definite pitch and a knob in the center (for which reason it is also known as the button gong). The center of the tam-tam is flat.
The gong did not become part of the symphony orchestra until the 19th century, although it had been known in various parts of Europe since the 16th century. The gong’s sound develops best in the lower register and it is for this reason that it is often used to complement the bass. However, it is also possible to play complete melodies on gongs, which can require the setting up of a large number of stands. Because of the size of the instrument playing the gongs sometimes demands a fair amount of acrobatic skill. (-;
The gong is struck with special mallets and has a particularly full-sounding and round tone in the bass. In the higher register it loses dynamic power very quickly, the tone dies away rapidly and sounds very thin.
Idiophone/autophone with definite pitch, percussion vessel
Approx. 15–80 cm (in the West; in Java there are much larger gongs)
Approx. 1–10 mm
Approx. 1–15 cm
Approx. 0.2–15 kg