Percussive Arts Society

the official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

The terms “gong” and “tam-tam” are often used interchangeably. Technically, gongs have an identifiable pitch while tam-tams are indefinite-pitched instruments having a wider spectrum of overtones. 

A gong with a raised “boss” in its center is often called a button gong, and such instruments are prominent in Javanese gamelan orchestras.

21 Inch Gong

21″ Thai button gong, with etched face and mallet. On loan from Randall Eyles
Button Gong

Detailed view of a button gong, showing the deep side flange, raised center boss, and ornamented face and side. Donated by Keith Aleo

Seven Gongs

Set of seven button gongs from the Philippines, ranging in diameter from 6″ to 7 1/2″, displayed around a highly-ornate 14″ button gong. Donated by Keith Aleo


Learn more about percussion history and historical instruments in the Rhythm! Discovery Center online collection, always available to the public at

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