Michael Bettine

I’m a storyteller. I tell stories with percussion. I use different sounds that will bring up memories, so the stories I tell, are your own stories, the stories you live.

Remember the sound of your grandma’s music box, the wind outside your window, or the busy street where you grew up? These are the type of sound stories that I tell. I use sound to connect you to memories. I’m a storyteller.

I work without a net. I go out to the edge and jump off everyday, because that is the only way. Yes, I've done my homework—over 40 years of research and performance—but every day is different, every session is different, and all of the wonderful people I connect with are different. So I don't work from a script. The Universe is fluid. What works one day, may not work the next. It's important for me to work in the moment. 

Since 2002 I've worked under the name, G O N G T O P I A, presenting concerts of original compositions & improvisations played on metal instruments, sounding bass drum, and hand drums. Working with the Gongs, Singing Bowls, Bells and Metals is extremely satisfying. The vibrations are intense and beautiful. My impetus for this comes from hearing all the wonderful sounds and harmonics while practicing alone, only to have them disappear in the context of a loud musical ensemble. Pure percussion, by itself, is one of the most beautiful things you will ever hear.

Another aspect of this work is presenting both Gong Meditation Sessions & Sound Workshops, using Gongs, Singing Bowls & Bells. These instruments create vibratory fields that can affect changes in your energy system. I love working with them. I love that I can present these vibrations to people. 

I've also released over 40 albums of solo percussion music and various duo/trio performances. As a parallel career, I've written about music and musicians for both magazines & books. From 1983-2008, I was a contributing writer for MODERN DRUMMER magazine, writing feature interviews, technical articles, and both product and music reviews. I've also written for AVANT (UK), DownBeat, Rhythm, and many other music magazines. 

Among my books are: WHEN IN DOUBT, ROLL! (with Bill Bruford), PERCUSSION PROFILES (with Trevor Taylor), and THE THINKING DRUMMER series of instructional books. 

You can access my percussion blogs, PERCUSSION DECONSTRUCTION™ and THE WAY OF THE GONG™; and my art blog, ART AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE, from the home page here. 

I also teach extensively, both in private lessons, and in workshops & clinics around the country, because I enjoy sharing what I have learned over the years. 

~ Michael Bettine

Chop Wood | Carry Water | Play Gongs™

FAQS - Find out the answers to questions people have asked me over the years.

I want to thank Michael Bettine for being a mentor, a friend and a source of inspiration. I've had the pleasure to perform with him and each time I walked away enriched & encouraged - he told me to trust my ears, my intuition and to keep moving forward. He is a consistent quiet leader; congruent with his words and actions - to me he represents what all gong players should strive to be. Thank you Michael. I'm certainly blessed to know you. 

Kenny Kolter

2011-5-10 Memphis Gong Chamber-104

Michael with 60" Paiste Symphonic Gong at the Memphis Gong Chamber

Enlightenment is not a one time event. We must each seek to become enlightened everyday. 

~ Singal Rinpoche

Photo of Michael at The Memphis Gong Chamber courtesy of Tim Shahady

© 2002 - 2023 Michael Bettine/GONGTOPIA - Design by IAM - Chop Wood / Carry Water / Play Gongs™