Pride and prejudice about the tongue drums. Demystifying the concept

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 Description: What is a tongue drum and is it as good as a handpan? These two drums create great rumors and misconceptions so let’s reveal the truth.

What is the tongue drum? Is it the same good as the handpan? It’s cheaper and it means it’s worse? Where can I find the one?

Although the handpans and tongue drums (which are relative instruments) have almost celebrated a 20-years anniversary, there are still a lot of misconceptions and prejudice about these instruments, especially about the steel tongue drums. Now it’s time to come clear. Here’s a shortlist of the most frequently asked questions and concepts that are frequently misunderstood.

  1.       Are the tongue drums and handpans the same?

Nope, these are two different instruments that have a relative genesis. Both are steel drums but have a different idea behind them. The handpan is a membrane instrument. It has a solid tensed surface with dimples on it. The drum produces the sound when a musician taps the tensed membrane and it resonates. The tongue drum’s surface is not solid. The carved tongues have splits and the sound comes out from these splits when a musician taps the tongues. The handpan and tongue drum have a different voice. It’s not like the sound of one drum is worse than another, it’s all a matter of taste. Think of it like violin and cello. Both are string instruments but you can definitely say the difference in their voices. 

  1.       Is the tongue drum a cheap and low-quality substitution for the handpan?

It depends on the drum and the producer. A cheap crafted tongue drum for $60 with a muffled sound (that can remind you of the sound of a frying pan) can’t compete with a $2000+ handpan with an accurate tuning that sounds like a crystal champagne glass. From another side, a high-quality tongue drum like the RAV Vast can overcome many handpans having a three-times longer sustain and a very clear and lush sound (while being 1,5 times cheaper than an average handpan). 

  1.       Should one be a musician to play the tongue drum?

Unlike playing the handpans that require having a musical background or even being a professional musician, the tongue drums are accessible for everyone. The key is to get a properly-tuned tongue drum that will do all the job for you. A well-tuned and harmonious tongue drum like the RAV Vast can be played by both of your nephew Timmy and uncle John. It can be played by any enthusiast who has always been dreaming to play a musical instrument. At the same time, the RAV Vast is a choice of many professional musicians and handpan players by virtue of its incredible sound parameters and ultimately long resonance. 

  1.       Can I only play the tongue drum to perform on the stage?

There are so many ways you can use the tongue drum and there’s, of course, no need to be a professional musician to take advantage o playing it, especially if you pick up the right tongue drum and the right scale. Use the B Celtic Minor RAV Vast to practice home sound therapy, play the B Major with your child or work with chakras with the A Integral RAV Vast. There’s no shortage of ways to use the drums.

  1.       Can the handpans and tongue drums be tuned in the same scales?

Absolutely. The instruments are different, but the musical scales are versatile. You can find your favorite musical scales like D Major or B Minor in the RAV Vast lineup.

  1.       Can I build a tongue drum at home?

If you are a professional handpan/steel drum producer who has the essential knowledge, experience, and materials – then yes, you can. Still, it’s doubtful you’d like to spend hours choosing the type of steel, finding the best shape, and cutting the edges. When buying a quality tongue drum like the RAV Vast from an official supplier, you can be sure you get a high-quality instrument that has an engineer’s idea behind provided with all the needed certificates.

 

 

 

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