| A Slit
Drum is an elaborate hard wood box that has tongues carved out of its top.
Each tongue is tuned to a different note in a scale. When a tongue is played
it vibrates up and down producing a warm woody tone. Songs and melodies
can be played either with provided rubber mallets or with the tips of your
fingers. Hand selected hard woods and quality craftsmanship will make this
an instrument that will last and last - and be handed down from generation
is the history of the Slit Drum?
Slit Drum is one of the world's oldest known instruments. They have been
a part of African, Asian and South American cultures for hundreds of years.
These drums were first made from hollowed out trees which were struck with
sticks to create tones. In some African cultures a slit drum language developed.
This language system was based on varied pitches, rhythms and intensities
of sound. Slit drums also had a wide variety of functions within different
cultures from story telling to beating out war cries over long distances.
Slit drums are known by many different names including Xylodrums, Log Drums,
Ozi Boxes, Tongue Drums, or Teponaztli. Our interpretation of this drum
is designed to maximize the warmth, depth and volume of tone that the drum
do I play it?
Playing the Slit
Drum is enjoyable and easy. Since all tones are in harmony there are no
"wrong notes". You can use the rubber mallets to lightly strike the tongues
or you can play the drum with the tips of your fingers. The longest tongue
on the drum makes the lowest note in the scale. Find the scale by playing
from the longest note to the shortest (high) note. Two or more notes played
in unison create harmonies and chords. Create songs by playing three or
four notes in a repeated pattern creating a melody or motif. Add complexity
by playing your pattern on other notes of the drum. Try to make up patterns
in the same song.
Play one note
repeatedly for a drone note effect and create a melody by playing other
notes around it. Experiment! Try to remember the distinct note of each
wood tongue or think of songs and melodies as patterns on the drum. A
quick tap of one or more fingers across the wood tongue will produce a
earthy woody tone.
often play using my hands. I play with the first two joints of the middle
finger. With this technique it helps to think of the drum surface as hot
so your fingers don't stay on the wood tongue and mute it."
Try to make
the notes ring out. Do not hit the drum with hard blows. It is possible
to do damage to the wood tongues or put the note out of pitch. Kids love
to play but beware of children and babies who don't have an understanding
of how to play softly. When playing in a band situation make sure you
are not hitting too hard just to get more volume. It is better to mic
the drum through amplification than to bang at it and risk damage.
Each drum comes
with an instructional tape.
Sizes and Models
It is important you select a Slit Drum that fits your tonal
and aesthetic needs. The size of a Slit Drums body determines whether it
will have a high, low, or medium voice. Our standard size drums produce
middle and high tones well, while our larger drums produce rich lower tones.
We would be happy to help you make the best choice.
number: (949) 293-4749
Matt hand-selects the
best woods to be used for each drum body.
comb through hundreds of boards from around the world searching for wood
with good tonal properties and beautiful grain. Some of the different
woods I regularly use are: Padauk, Wenge, Purple Heart, Blood Wood, Birch
A Slit Drum's
tone is determined by the size of the drum body and its tonal scale. Tuning
a drum is a long and delicate process. Shavings of wood are removed from
each tongue until the pitch needed is attained. Each drum note is tuned
to the standard 440 pitch.
and diatonic scales are available. A diatonic scale is recognizable as
the standard "do-re-me" scale. A pentatonic scale is the same as the diatonic
but two notes (the 4th and 7th notes) are removed. The pentatonic scale
is the basis of much of the world's music. This scale is easy to play.
You can make up songs right away and play with other musicians without
any fear of hitting a "wrong" note. A pentatonic drum is great for people
at any level of playing. Most of our slit drums are sold with the pentatonic
scale. The diatonic scale has a fuller range of notes. More complex songs
can be played with this scale. The most common scales we tune to are A
and A minor, C, C minor, D, G and G minor.
Matt accepts custom
always entertain new design looks and even outlandish dreams."
will increase the price of an instrument. Call and talk to Matt about
what you have in mind.
is necessary, a microphone will usually do the trick. If needed I can
install an internal pickup in the drum. The quality of our German made
pickups is excellent. Many electronic effects can be used when a slit
drum is amplified with a mic or pickup. Try playing with some reverb,
echo or delay for a fun experimental sound.
Our slit drums
are hand rubbed with Tung Oil. This oil is derived from the Tung Nut of
Asia. It penetrates the wood well and dries to a protective coating. A
hard wax is then buffed onto the drum to add a slight shine and moisture
protection. Simply apply more wax with a soft cloth once a year or whenever
you wish to bring out extra shine. Do not subject your drum to harsh weather
changes like leaving it out in the sun or closed in a hot car. Keep your
drum out of prolonged direct sunlight.
Each drum purchase
includes one pair of mallets.
hand-make all of our mallets using hardwood dowels and specially made
natural rubber tips."
The mallets come
in small, medium and large to fit the different size drums. Mallet heads
are covered with a black nylon or lycra material for appearance.
Extra mallets can
be purchased for duet playing or for other related instruments.
This CD has step by step instructions on playing your Slit Drum. It lays out a good approach to the instrument and is very encouraging.
The CD also contains music to play with your Slit Drum. (Click
here to view our complete line of CDs).