A steel tongue drum is also known as a tank drum, tongue drum, or hank drum. It is affiliated with the percussion instruments and specifically to the idiophone family. This implies that its sound is generated by the vibration that occurs from within the instrument. The instrument is very useful for sound therapy, meditation music, and yoga practice.
Anyone can play tongue drums, therefore, make a point of buying one if you intend to be creative, relax and enjoy beautiful sounds. A steel tongue drum is an excellent instrument as anyone regardless of their age can enjoy it. This article focuses on shedding more light on the major steel tongue drum scales, tuning the tongue drum, things to consider when buying the instrument, and various types of steel tongue drum sounds.
Tongue Drum Major Scales
1. The happy scale
This one does not need magnets and it is the Beat Root tongue drum’s original scale. The happy scale triggers joyful feelings and boosts the sense of well-being. Additionally, it is great in enhancing openness to the world. Beginners can start with this one because it is effortless to play when starting due to its intuitiveness.
2. The tribal scale
This is a pentatonic scale and you need two magnets to play it. The magnets are placed on the red placeholders. Besides, the tribal scale instantly triggers energizing and exotic feelings.
3. The nature scale
This one needs a pair of magnets and one magnet is placed on the blue placeholder while the other one is on the yellow one. Notably, this major scale can be defined as contemplative and pure as it triggers strength and calmness.
It makes you feel like you are in a forest that contains centuries-old trees. Alternatively, it can give you the feeling of enjoying the serenity of the life-giving and stimulating force of a river.
4. The zen scale
This one is amazing for relaxation and needs a pair of magnets. You place one of those magnets on the yellow placeholder while the other one is on the blue one. This major scale is effective when you need to trigger deep inner peace feelings.
With its Eastern timbre, this scale is great for creativity and it’s simple to play. As a matter of fact, it brings about natural beauty.
5. The space scale
This scale needs three magnets and it gives you a glimpse of heaven. One magnet is placed on the yellow placeholder while the other two are on the red one.
You can generate sonically sweeping musical melodies and cinematography. With this one, your creative energy will flow, allowing you to explore the voyage and cosmos to universe edges.
6. The melancholia scale
You will need three magnets with this one, where each is placed on the blue, green, and yellow placeholders. It is useful when you need a melody that can accompany the piano, singing, or guitar.
Besides, the melancholia scale is amazing for setting meditation moods. Here you will get combined sky and earth energies.
How to Tune Steel Tongue Drum
Step 1: Get a tuner
If you want to spot the right pitch and frequency of every tongue, you need to get a tuner to serve as a reference. To get one, download a tuner app on your smartphone or go to a music store and buy a chromatic tuner.
Step 2: Select scale and frequency
Frequencies are very powerful, in the sense that they cannot only boost body recovery but also hurt you. This is why you have to get scale and frequency tuning right. As a result, this leaves you two options; use the default setting and perfect tones or adjust the whole scale to achieve a new frequency.
440Hz is the default frequency, however, you can give 538 Hz or 423Hz a try. The 3 frequencies are recommendable for mysterious effects, however, you can try other non-standard tunings.
The capacity to adjust the scale depends on the model of the tongue drum because some models do not allow this function. For instance, classic unibody models do not allow scale adjustment but 2-part models allow simple retuning.
There are two ways of tuning a steel tongue drum and these includes;
- Using a knife
- Using a magnet
Factors to Consider When Buying a Steel Tongue Drum
From the name of the instrument, it is evident that steel is used as the major material. One of the chief reasons this is the case is to boost durability. Manufacturers can use alloy or pure steel to make one. However, high-quality tongue drums will feature stainless steel material to prevent rusting.
The weight and dimensions of a tongue drum dictate its portability and determine who should use it. Small models are highly portable, making them suitable for those who are on the go most of the time. Additionally, these models are better for kids and beginners. Larger models are bulky to transport and they are better for adults and advanced players.
3. Notes and key major scales
A drum’s notes and scales are a major consideration when buying one depending on the skill level of the player. For instance, C or G major scales are better suited for beginners than the C Lydian scale.
Additionally, the number of notes in the drum will determine the ease of playing it. For beginners, a drum with 8 notes is more friendly than one with 11 or 13 notes.
Different Types of Steel Drum Sounds
Steel tongue drums produce different sounds including the following;
- Tenor- Also referred to as soprano or lead because it features the highest sound range
- Bass- It is produced by the largest tongue drum pan and has the lowest note range.
- Double tenor- Features second highest sound range
- Cello- Suitable for bass riffs and lower chords.
- Double seconds- Produces lower pitch compared to the double tenor. It is suitable for playing harmony, chords, and melody.
- Double guitar- This one has lesser notes compared to the double seconds. It is suitable for playing harmony horn section and chords
You can play a steel tongue drum with your hand or use a mallet. Beginners can start with a drum that has less notes and one that is smaller in size. It is possible to adjust the frequency of a best steel tongue drum, however, adjusting the scale depends on the model of drum you have.
A tongue drum is an excellent instrument that can deliver peace, allow to connect with the universe, and boost mediation among other benefits. Get yours today and transform your life as you grow your playing skills.