The tongue drum has ancient roots, but the instrument itself as we know it now is relatively new. Dennis Havlena, an American, developed it through some ingenious experiments involving a propane gas tank! The principle is quite simple: cut the bottom off two tanks, weld them together, and then cut out the tongues, whose width and length define the note.
The intuitive approach to playing the tongue drum sets it apart from many musical instruments. You don’t need any knowledge of rhythm, percussion, or music theory to play a beautiful tune. It’s impossible to play a bad note, and they all sound good together. You can either play it with your hands or use mallets.
Tongue drums come in many scales,and more recently, the market offers multi-scale models that allow users to tune the tongue drum to different scales. It’s a great way to play multiple scales without having to buy multiple tongue drums. Moreover, there are even electro-acoustic models that connect to an amp or a sound card for an infinite number of effects.
Designs for these Professional Performance Carbon Steel Tongue drums come from African, Asian, and South American cultures. The simple wooden construction of traditional tongue drum models shows how more primitive societies could make these instruments easily. The original sticks would have been fairly simple to make, and the rectangular or simple round construction of the drum itself does not present the same structural challenges as some other types of drums, for example, those that require extensive tightening of a drum head.
Some experts claim that the tongue drum served a specific purpose when it was originally made; according to those who have studied the societies that created these designs, the drum was originally constructed to sound a low percussive tone that could travel long distances.