Steel Tongue Drums
Rockcreek Steel Drums welcomes the steel tongue drum as the newest member of the steel drum family. Its long sustain and rich tones complement the brighter tones and shorter sustain of the traditional steel drum. Whether you are a serious musician or a novice looking to have some fun at home, the tongue drum is a great tool for anyone looking to make soothing sounds of their own.
The steel tongue drum is a newly developed instrument that is a cross between a traditional Caribbean steel drum, a wooden tongue drum and a Kalimba. Like the steel pan it is a steel drum that is used to play melody. Its sound has been compared to a Wurlitzer (Think Ray Charles), or a Fender Rhodes or the NBC chimes.
The steel tongue drum is approximately 85 decibels when played.
This is softer than the traditional steel drum which is approximately 95 decibels when played. The note layouts are based on those from our steel drum ensemble, and different members of the steel tongue drum family of instruments have different pitch ranges and are used to play melodies, chord progressions and bass lines. Rockcreek builds four different steel tongue drums: the 9-Note Drum, the Cycle of Fifths, the Double Seconds and the Bass Drums. These drums come with mallets and a beginner guide.
A Little History
The modern steel tongue drum was only introduced a few years ago by Dennis Havlina. He is the first person we know of to produce a steel drum instrument made from the much thicker 5 gallon steel tanks used for propane storage. By slicing a perimeter around the notes on the bottom of the drum, Dennis created a durable steel tongue drum. Its popularity is quickly gaining speed worldwide.
Our Drums/The Rockcreek Difference
Rockcreek Steel Drums applies the same building techniques and note layout to the steel tongue drum that we do to the traditional steel drums. Our method of cutting, burning, stretching and grinding the playing area until it rings to a rich tone and concert tuned pitch also tunes the harmonics. In addition, each member of our synchronized steel tongue drum ensemble is tuned on a chromatic scale.
The Steel Tongue Ensemble consists of three drums that play together to form a complete band, covering all ranges. These are the cycle of fifths, used to play melodies; the double seconds, with the largest range and versatility and the bass drums, used to summon the back beat.
Playing Your Steel Tongue Drum
The steel tongue drum can be played in your lap and does not require a stand. It can be played with your hands or mallets. In order to play the tongue drum in a band with other amplified instruments it would need to be amplified also.
Caring for Your Instrument
Built from thicker steel, the tongue drums are more durable than traditional steel drums. If a buzzing sound develops, there may be debris lodged in the grooves. This can be cleared out by cleaning between the notes with a business card.