Over the last decade a number of adventurous instrument makers have used steel pans, propane tanks and custom alloy “shells” to create a new breed of melodic percussion: steel tongue drums.
Borrowing design concepts from traditional wood models, steel versions feature “tongues” of varying lengths cut into the top of the drum in a circular pattern. The drum is placed in the percussionist’s lap and is struck with fingertips for a soft sound, finger pads for a slapped sound, and thumbs for a harder tonal “knock”. Overtones of adjacent tongues ring sympathetically with the note that is being struck to create complexity of sound.
As part of Nine Volt Audio’s "Duo" line of products, they’ve recorded two steel tongue drums. The larger 1Tone is a nine-note model that originates from Israel and is tuned to the “Hitzaz” scale (sometimes written as “Hijaz”) in the key of D. It has a resonant and “ringy” quality that creates a beautiful droning background to performances. In addition to finger articulations, this drum has also been recorded with brushes.
The Garrahand is a small yet tunable model from Argentina. Despite it having only seven tongues, each was individually tuned through the sampling process to make the drum playable in a chromatic fashion. This drum has a buoyant and mellow sound with fewer overtones than the 1Tone.
With over 3100 samples and patches that are both natural and modern, Duo puts the evocative and expressive sound of steel tongue drums at your fingertips.
- Nearly 3 GB of 44.1kHz/24bit samples and 34 Kontakt 3.5/4 instrument patches and multis. Download is 1.1 GB.
- Articulations and patches for both drums include finger tip and finger slaps. The 1Tone also includes thumb hits and brushes. Patches for each drum have been created to automatically switch articulation types based on velocity or modwheel position. “Lite” versions of some patches are also available to accommodate different levels of RAM and CPU usage.
- Each articulation includes between 25 and 40 samples per sampled note, for a total of 3114 samples. User interface controls are available to control the depth of automatic sample rotation and other humanization features.
- “Duo” and “Unison” patches are available allowing for the simulation of two people playing simultaneously. These patches have additional “Spread” and “Detune” interface controls.
- Arpeggiator patches include 12 patterns per patch. Patterns 1-6 are duple meter (2/4, 4/4), patterns 7-10 triple meter (3/4, 6/8), and patterns 11 and 12 are 5/4 and 7/8, respectively.
- User interface controls are available for the Garrahand patches to alter chromatic playing modes to the instrument’s original keys and scale – along with numerous other keys and scales.
- Additional user interface controls include: convolution reverb (with 34 custom IR.wavs), saturation, stereo width, velocity curve, low and high pass filters, delay, low, mid and high EQ gain, AHDSR, remap knob and humanization.
Duo Steel Tongue is available for $59.99. It is compatible with full retail versions of Kontakt 3.5 and up.