Tongue drum scales
Tips to help you choose a tongue drum scale
Deciding on a scale is an important choice as it will accompany you throughout your musical adventure and strongly influence your way of playing. Not to mention, it will inform the mood of the music you create.
First of all, consider the kinds of emotions you want to evoke or feel when playing your tongue drum. For example, if you like meditative or introspective atmospheres, consider a minor scale. If you want to create more playful and warm atmospheres, then look to major scales. And if like me, your taste often shifts around, you may want a multi-scale model so you can let your mood and heart dictate the tongue drum scale you play.
Moreover, your tongue drum will be your best friend for many years, so you don’t want to get tired of the scale you choose after a few months of use. This leads us back to multi-scale models, which remove the headache of having to settle on just one scale and eliminate the feeling of envy when you hear another beautiful scale.
Overview of different tongue drum scales
Manufacturers offer a wide choice of scales with a variable number of notes (6 for the smallest Rammerdrum, 8 for the Beat Root, 9 on the Zenko, and so on.)
A popular one is the Akebono scale (Beat Root, Zenko), an Oriental scale that is ideal for a relaxing or meditative approach and suits use in music therapy as well.
Pentatonic scales may sound more “light,” such as the F-pentatonic from Rammerdrum or the tribal scale from Beat Root. These versatile scales open up countless soundscapes and can suit many musical contexts.
The minor scales are also very appreciated as their acoustic properties provide a "gliding" dimension to the sound, which is conducive to endless introspective journeys and gentle melancholy — the aptly named Melancholia scale on the Beat Root or the D-minor Rammerdrum, for example.
Finally, tongue drums come in the major scales as well. In particular, the Full Tone Beat Root (C D E F G A B C) is in the C major scale and suits music learning (a system of magnets allows tuning to the natural, harmonic and melodic minor scales) as well as the multi-scale model that comes tuned to the G major scale and can shift to five other scales in a few seconds.
Last but not least, some manufacturers like Beat Root even offer models tuned to 432 Hz (as opposed to the standard 440 Hz). Also known as the Verdi pitch, this frequency is supposed to be resonant with the universe, water, Mayan temples, etc. It may be perfect for someone with mystical leanings.