gong, percussion instrument consisting of a disk, usually with upturned edges, 3 ft (91 cm) or more in diameter in the modern orchestra, often made of bronze, and struck with a felt- or leather-covered mallet or drumstick. Of ancient origin—representations of the gong date back to the 6th cent. A.D.—it has also been called the tam-tam. First used in Western music in the funeral march of Gossec's Mirabeau (1791), the gong has since been a regular member of the European-type orchestra, but it is used sparingly. It is commonly used in East Asian music and in the gamelan music of Bali and Java.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.