The Tongue Drums In The Contemporary World

Music is one of the oldest art forms on our planet. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors fashioned instruments out of logo, bamboo sticks and even animal skin. Today, we are still being creative and finding new ways to make beautiful melodies to maintain the culture of our country and show the evolving nature of art that our country stands proud of. One example of this is the recently developed Tongue Drums.

What are tongue drums?

It has been an instrument of cultural importance since ages. It is also known as a Tank Drum or Hank Drum. Invented by Dennis Havlena in 2007, it is an extension of the Hand pans, but much cheaper and have a distinct sound as compared to a Hand pan. They are charming instruments that can be played by everyone and are found in different environments, from a therapist’s office to a classroom, to a meditation centre.


The origin of the Tongue Drums has been associated with the Aztecs, where they initially had created the wooden versions of it called log drums or tone drums. The Slit Drums of the African origin is considered as the early predecessors of the modern day steel tongue drums. While some tongue drums are crafted with wood today, the earliest form of tongue drums have been made from steel or metal alloys. In contrast to rare and expensive hang drums, steel tongue drums are smaller, more portable and more accessible to a wide array of people.

It is an instrument belonging to the percussion family, and produces notes played on the slits made in the top section of the steel case which can make the sound harmonic and a little varied from the traditional hand pans. They are very easy to make music with because they are tuned to a diatonic scale, which means that each note will sound good with the instrument played before or after it. This is why, even for a beginner with no musical knowledge, they are easy to deal with.

Working of a tongue drum

The notes on it are arranged in the same way as it would on a hand pan, with each note either going up or down the scale from left to right across the head of the instrument. The steel tongue drum ensemble consists of three drums that are played together to form a complete band covering all ranges, these are the cycles of fifth, used to play melodies; the double seconds with the largest range and versatility and the bass drums, used to summon the back beat. The weight, width and length of the tongue determines the sound and pitch of the note which in turn determines the type of song which a person will be able to perform with it.

The price of tongue drums varies on a lot of factors depending on its size, scale and quality options. The beginner level may range from 2k to 4k, extending to 40k for a more designed and advanced one. The demand for tongue drums is expanding rapidly as it is a newly developed instrument and its uses and applicability are being explored further to how and in what types of music this instrument can be involved in. This is why; the vibrancy of it is seen in students exploring it in different colleges, making its popularity expanding. Its similarity to a hand pan and its cheap availability also adds to the fact that this it is generally affordable by the youth.