Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Many years ago, more than ten, I was working as a traveling photographer and happened to be in Nevada City, California. Nevada City is a famous gold rush town of the West with a rich history. The main street is filled with rustic authentic buildings from that era and tourist shops to complement that history.
On a lunch break I happened into a gift store which carried, among other items, rhythm instruments from around the world. I came upon a wonderfully crafted wooden percussion instrument where the sound emanated by tapping a cloth covered mallet on the wood top. I was immediately drawn to the rhythmic and melodious sound. I thought about purchasing the instrument, however, money was tight so I decided against it. I went back to work and briefly forgot about the instrument.
When I returned home I told Gary about the instrument and he said I should have bought it. As life often goes the opportunity never arose for me to go back and get the instrument nor find another one to purchase. As the years went by I thought about that instrument quite a few times, trying to remember the sound it made. Then the other night we borrowed the film The Visitor from the library. One of the characters played a drum and I was again reminded of that instrument from so long ago. Curiously I never knew what type of instrument it was. Today I decided to try to find out. I did a search for percussion instruments but couldn't find it. Then I did a search for wood percussion instrument played with a mallet, and I found it. It's called a tongue drum.
One way or another I'm going to find a way to afford the purchase of a tongue drum and learn how to play it. I'm even wondering if I can make a tongue drum out of clay or perhaps another type of ceramic drum. In the meantime I found out about a drum circle which meets once a month at the beach nearby, the next meeting is July 10th. I also learned of someone who gives drumming lessons.
I've decided to start out making ceramic rattles, and I already have one made with sgraffito. I'll take a photo tomorrow to show you. After I do some research I'll try to make a ceramic drum. Don't worry I'm still making floral related ceramic pieces too.
Follow this link to a page with videos of several different styles of tongue drums being played, worth a listen. I like the tone of the wood tongue drums the best, but the videos show some drums made from metal and even one made from a propane bottle. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.
The first photo was borrowed from Steve Roberts' site. There is a lot of information about tongue drums and he also plays and makes tongue drums.
The second photo was borrowed from Hardwood Music Company, click on the link for many examples of wood tongue drums.