Tongue drums beat out beautiful rhythms, through its vibrating tongues. Played almost like a wooden tongue drum, the sound waves are created by using the mallets available with them. Fingers can also be used to play on these drums. The tongues are tuned by varying the cut length. Weights are also added, to aid in the tuning. These weights are made of neodymium magnets and are added to the tongues. The tuning of these steel tongue drums are made to pentatonic scales, diatonic scale or the chromatic scale. The player makes perfect tunes by playing the instrument with his fingers or with the aid of mallets. Playing melodies with rhythmic patterns, with the aid of mallets and with a care sheet is wonderful to the ears. The compact drums create harmonic music that makes it easy to enjoy new musical horizons. It can be used anywhere and can be taken for long distances, without being a burden to carry.


The drum adds to the depth of the rhythm and the notes. There is a port at the bottom of the body that helps to increase the volume of the sound, as the sound gets its opening through the hole. When the beats are played fast, the tones sound superb and do not overlap with each other. Different levels of resonance can be used, to produce the desired effect, according to the player.

The drum is handplayed by the musician. He can make the steelpan drum rest on his lap while playing. It can also be played by using the mallets. Using minimal force, the sounds comes out throatily from the instrument. When played by the hand, the player can play the music, almost similar to the traditional drums, but they come with a beautiful sound that resembles the wind chimes, giving out a relaxing melody. It can also be played with the mallets, by which, each note gets more pronounced and the sound is produced in a clear tone. The tongue drums have easy alignment of notes that facilitates for easy playing, as the hand moves up and down over the instrument. It also enables easy playing of various chords.

SteelPan Features

The steelpan can be made from industrial waste and is a part of Trinidadian and Tobago culture. Steelpans are also known as steel drums and sound great when played collectively, as an orchestra. It is a chromatically pitched instrument and is made from around 55 gallons of steel. The steelpans are made, using steel sheets of 0.8 to 1.5 mm. Initially, oil barrels were used to make steel pans. But now, these steelpan drums are made with more precision, aided by a more technical process.

The steel Drums are hand-made and take around 5 days or more to make a steelpan. These unique instruments are made by stretching the steel into a large concave bowl in the form of a dish. The metal has to be stretched evenly, without any deformity in it. It is then tempered, to make it stronger, by using hot fire, until it is red-hot and then it is rapidly cooled, to make the metal thick and strong. It is then tuned. The sides of the pan are cut and holes are drilled, to make the pan hang from a stand, with the help of a wire or a rope. The steel pans are dipped in chrome, to make them shine. They are also painted in bright colors, to give them a colorful appearance. The keys are labeled on the pan, to aid easy understanding.


The notes are patterned on the steelpan drums. They are marked, shaped and molded, on the surface of the steel pans. A tuning device is used to hammer the note from the top, so that the notes vibrate with perfect pitch. The notes are tuned and are related to each other, to make the tunes blend together harmonically and in perfection of vibration and sound.

Playing the steel pan

The steel pans are played using two straight sticks that have a rubber tip. The rubber tip varies in size and type, in accordance to the class of pan played. Sometimes, musicians use two pairs of pansticks, by holding a pair in each hand. The mallets are also made with aluminum tubing or with wooden dowels. Mallets, used for small pans are tipped with surgical tubing of rubber, while the larger pans have heavier mallets made of solid rubber of the correct size.


The person playing the steelpan is called as the pannist. The steel pan is played by a single performer or it is played as a band. Sometimes, singers accompany the pannists.

Types of Steel Drums

There are different types of steel drums. They are the Tenor, Double Tenor, Double Second, Bass, Cello steel drum and Guitar steel drum.

  • The Tenor Steel drums are single drums and are of the low tenor and high tenor drums. They are more economical to buy and can be easily taken to other places, as they have only one steel drum stand and one case.
  • The Double Tenor Steel drums having two drums are used for harmony playing, as well as for melodies.
  • The Double Second has two drums and is most popular for playing. They are used for playing chords, leads and for harmonic voices.
  • The bass Steel drum consists of about 6 drums. They are quite a number and hence difficult to take while travelling. Some opt to use the electric bass guitar instead of the bass steel drum
  • The Cello Steel drums have 3 pans and give a deep tone that is best to play counter melodies and for low harmonics.
  • The Guitar steel drum has 2 pans and is usually used for strumming. It can produce harmonic music and also for harm