History of the tongue drum

The origin of the tongue drum

The tongue drum is a singular and attractive percussion derived from the idiophone family ("the sound is produced by the material of the instrument itself, without the need for rope, membrane or external resonator", says Wikipedia). They are given other names like tank drum, Hank drum or steel tongue drum.

Its astonishing look reminiscent of the shape of a flying saucer attracts the look and its very peculiar sonorities confer a unique aura. It allows to play rhythms or melodies thanks to its "tongues" (tongue) whose number is variable, these will constitute the different notes of the instrument.

rammerdrum tongue drum steel tongue drum rammerdrum

The Italian tongue drum Rammerdrum

It differs from many musical instruments because of its super intuitive approach: no need to be an expert in percussion or a champion of the solfeggio to draw something beautiful since it is impossible to make a false note! One is immediately carried, as hypnotized by its gentle and soothing sounds...

It can be played with the help of mallets or directly with the hands and its field of use is very wide: composition, meditation, musical awakening, Music Therapy, group play...

His ancestors are ancient but the tongue drum is quite recent, discovered thanks to the ingenious experiments of an American, Dennis Havlena, who had the idea of making an instrument from a bottle of gas (tank)! The principle is quite simple: we cut the bottom of two bottles, we weld them and then we go to the cutting of languages, whose width and length will define the note. Easier said than done...

Some continue to manufacture them in this way but the instrument has developed widely and today we find tongue drum whose manufacturing process is completely industrial.

tongue drum manufacturing

Steel tongue drum manufacturing

Many scales are proposed, more or less exotic, but recently we find in the market multi-scale models allowing to tune the tongue drum in different ways what, let's face it, is a great way to vary the pleasures without spending fortunes! We also find electro-acoustic models that allow to connect the tongue drum to an amp or a sound card and thus enjoy an infinite number of effects (Looper, delay, etc...) to boost its creativity and make recordings very easily or to play in groups and be sure to be heard!

Can't not mention the Hang Drum, (even if this site is not dedicated to him!) kind of "big brother" of the tongue drum, which does not have a tongue but whose surface is hammered to get these intricate and captivating notes! Little wink, the term "Hank drum" is no more than a mixture between "tank drum" and "hang drum"!

Hang Drum panart

A Hang Drum from PANArt

Although belonging to the same family, these two instruments do not play quite in the same court, in particular at the level of the budget since basically it will take almost six times the price of a tongue drum to afford a hang...

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