Sound Creation: Johannes Welsch

The gong, one of the oldest instruments on the planet, commands the artist more than any other instrument. Except for the seventh improvisation which also uses singing bowls, the improvisations on gongs by Johannes Welsch feature only gongs of different types and sizes, most of them from the full Sound Creation Series crafted by the Swiss company, Paiste. The Paiste Sound Creation Series consists of four groups named after the elements of alchemy, fire, water, earth and air, with three gongs in each group except for earth that has four. Welsch in his improvisations works with two sound aspects of the gongs, that of dynamic range and the other of frequency spectrum. He has written: "I typically develop soundscapes which come out of and return to silence. While the amplitude increases the gong unfolds its full frequency spectrum, beginning with low frequencies (fundamental) and subsequently developing those beautiful overtones (harmonics)."

The first improvisation, *Fire*, uses the Paiste fire gongs to explore aggression, sun, and fire. In *Storm* two gongs are heard. The 28 inch symphonic gong has a slightly raised surface with its fundamental note balanced with its complex overtones. Its sounds are combined with the 32 inch earth gong. For *Water*, Welsch combines three Paiste water gongs -- moon, peace, water-- with two Chinese gongs of different sizes (20" and30"). *Earth* features two of the Paiste earth gongs (38" and 60").

 

In *Symphony Part I* a Paiste symphonic gong of 38 inches reverberates with a microphonic (inspired by Stockhausen) gong of 60 inches. The latter can be heard in *Symphony Part II* along with a large symphonic gong of 60 inches. To conclude this set of improvisations, Welsch describes *Air* in sound with two singing bowls, one of crystal, the other of bronze, along with an Indonesian gong, and the Paiste air gongs of abdomen, chest, and head.

 

 Johannes Welsch is the proprietor of the Dunrobin Sonic Gym, a professional facility in Ottawa devoted to the experience, study and production of sound. A critical thinker, performing artist and music producer his artwork and ideas have been featured on radio programs around the world. He has been a drummer from early childhood and for two decades has been offering performances featuring one of the world's largest collections of fine gongs currently on permanent display at the Dunrobin Sonic Gym where he has performed with artists such as David Mott, Pauline Oliveros and Jesse Stewart. Johannes studied economics at the University of Miami and received his doctorate in Management from IESE, the University of Navarra's Graduate School of Management. In 1991 he was the recipient of the "Best Doctoral Dissertation Award" by the American Family Firm Institute (FFI). His early research which applied social systems analysis to transitional processes in large industrial family firms has been published in academic journals and covered by national media in Europe. His lectures on organizational dynamics have been attended by managers of some of the world's largest organizations. Johannes has taught and/or held research positions at IESE in Barcelona, IMD in Lausanne, The German Management Institute (USW) at Gracht Castle in Germany, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

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