What Is a Tongue Drum?

A tongue drum is a musical instrument with slits cut into the exterior to produce a specific sound when the user strikes a portion of the drum. These drums are usually made of wood, but they can also be made of metal. Depending on how a tongue drum is set up, striking different parts of the drum will produce different percussion tones.

Tongue drums are among the oldest types of percussion instruments, according to experts. These drums are inspired African, Asian, and South American cultures. Traditional tongue drum models’ simple wooden construction demonstrates how these instruments could be easily made more primitive societies. The original sticks would have been simple to make, and the rectangular or simple round construction of the drum itself does not pose the same structural challenges as other types of drums, such as those that require extensive tightening of the drum head. According to those who have studied the societies that created these designs, the tongue drum was originally constructed to sound a low percussive tone that could travel long distances, according to some experts.

The tops of many of the most common tongue drums are rectangular boxes with progressively longer areas cut out. The relative tone is determined the length of the wooden piece or “tongue” that is surrounded a pair of slits. Additional ornate woodworking can also be added to the surface of these drums.

Although the majority of tongue drums are made of wood, metal versions are available. The harmonic tympanum is one of these structures. It has a round metal surface with C shaped cuts, which allows for a variety of tones.

A tongue drum’s unique design makes it not only a beautiful decoration, but also a very useful tonal instrument. These drums do have their own maintenance and repair issues, such as the possibility of various tongues breaking off or becoming fractured over time. The longevity of these relatively simple drum models is influenced the quality of wood used.

Although some musicians still use the tongue drum today, the drum’s history provides historians with a wealth of information about ancient cultures’ activities. More modern percussion instruments, such as the xylophone, have been influenced the tongue drum. At the same time, the tongue drum’s actual use has faded into obscurity, and the majority of those who own these percussion instruments are amateurs.