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5 Cool Percussion Alternatives To Traditional Drums

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Do you find the regular drums a little mainstream, and learning to play the triangle is just a little too simple? There are plenty of alternative options out there that are both easy to learn and will allow you to create beautiful melodies and rhythm at the same time!

In this guide, we’ll go over 5 cool alternatives to regular drums that will have you producing great-sounding music in no time.

1. Steel Tongue Drums

Steel tongue drums produce both a mixture of rhythm and melody. This instrument gains its name due to the upper surface of the drum being cut into different semicircular-sized shapes, or ‘tongues’. When these are struck, they vibrate, and the sound of this vibration is amplified in the drum’s body.


In the past, if you had wanted to have a go at playing one, you would have had to make it yourself. A common method was to use an old propane bottle. Fortunately, this is no longer necessary. You will find a range of vendors online that will stock commercial versions of much more reliable quality.

Before buying a steel tongue drum, read reviews of popular models. What do people have to say about the model you’re considering? Sites like Music and Tempo offer detailed reviews specific to steel tongue drums. Doing your research will ensure you make a well-informed decision and are happy with your new instrument.

2. Talking Drums

A single talking drum offers a great deal in terms of sounds and tones. Unlike a traditional drum which generally has a single sound, talking drums produce a range of pitches and tones.


The talking drum has an hourglass shape and is held between the arm and the body. Their Westernized name comes from the fact that they sound very similar to a human voice deeply murmuring. The differences in sound are achieved by compressing the drum under the arm as it is struck.

The drumhead is placed under tension with a series of chords. As it is compressed and relaxed, it changes the tension in the drumhead, producing different notes and sounds.

3. Tibetan Singing Bowls

A Tibetan singing bowl is more akin to a bell. If you enjoy creating music that is ethereal and relaxing, then this is an excellent choice.


Tibetan singing bowls are often used in meditation. If you have ever witnessed Buddhist monks chanting, then you’ll undoubtedly have heard them used already. They are simple instruments to play. Each bowl creates one note.

The highest quality bowls will produce a sustained note that resonates for a long time after the bowl is struck. Different sounds and tones can be achieved by utilizing several bowls at the same time.

4. Thunder Tubes

As alternative percussion instruments go, thunder tubes are something completely different! They produce an interesting series of sound effects that can be altered and changed depending on your playing style. It’s a particularly popular choice for children as it is easy to play with, and you can even make your own version at home!

A thunder tube consists of a solid tubular body that can be made of any solid material. A small gauged spring is mounted through the center. You can pluck this spring to produce a range of sounds. You can also strike the tube itself. Players can combine the two to produce a variety of effects.

5. Hang Drums

Hang drums are like a laptop version of Caribbean steel drums. They produce a similar ‘tropical’ sound. The drum itself looks very similar to an upturned wok. Its upper face is punctuated with a series of depressions. These areas are struck by hand to produce different notes and sounds. It is held in the lap of the player in a seated position.

The beauty of the hang drum is that it is easy to play, and anyone with a good sense of rhythm will be able to create a good tune.

Conclusion

There are plenty of diverse and interesting alternatives to ‘standard’ percussive instruments. Steel tongue drums and thunder tubes can even be made at home and most are very easy to play. Whatever you choose, it’s the enjoyment of playing that matters!

Hi, my name is Erick Ycaza. I have a BA in Advertising & Graphic Design. This blog is to provide you with daily music news and share my personal style.

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