The HAPI steel drums use tongues cut to different sizes and shapes to produce musical tones, similar to wooden tongue drums. The steel is about 2mm thick. The original concept of using steel came from Dennis Havlena who began cutting tongues into steel tanks in 2007. These types of drums are called Hank Drums. Starting with his concept, we began experimenting with different custom made musical steels and our own unique note layouts to build on Dennis' original idea. We have created our own molded shapes to make our HAPI Drum line of percussion instruments.
Our HAPI Steel Tongue Drums are ideal for jamming and playing percussive beats. Anyone who wants an easy to play intuitive instrument can learn to play one. You don't need a musical background to enjoy it. The note layout of the HAPI drum makes it easy to jump right into grooving rhythms. Enjoy creating a soothing harmonic journey with your HAPI drum. You will love being able to add a melodic component to your beats. An intuitive arrangement to the notes makes it easy to explore new musical horizons. The strong meditative tones are calming and great for relaxing anytime. Its compact design allows you to take it outside and enjoy it in nature or on camping trips too. As well as a great musical percussion instrument, HAPI Drums are also being used in music therapy.
How is the tone created?
The unique tone of the HAPI is created by a tuned vibrating tongue of steel. The concept is similar to a wooden tongue drum. When a tongue is quickly and lightly struck with the finger or mallet it vibrates creating sound waves. By changing the shape and length of the tongue optimal vibration and perfect tone can be achieved. By arranging the notes in our unique way each note when struck excites surrounding notes that are musically compatible with it. This adds to the harmonic spectrum of the tone. Rather than just one tone we can now create a spectrum of supporting sound for each note. The tone is similar to singing bowls or musical bells which create multiple harmonic overtones. The body of the drum acts as a resonating chamber adding depth to the note. We have carefully chosen an opening port in the bottom of the drum that serves three functions. The bottom hole allows the sound to escape and increases the volume. It releases the tone from the body so that the notes do not overlap each other too much. This is especially desirable for faster playing. It allows the player to open or close the port with their lap and chose different resonance levels for a different effect. Additional dampening of the notes and drum body is required to keep the drum from becoming discordant and “ringy”. We have developed a breakthrough proprietary technique built into each drum which provides excellent resonance while supplying the correct amount of dampening.
How is it played?
We recommend playing the HAPI with the pads of your fingers. A wide range of sounds can be created with different techniques. Playing by hand connects you with the drum in the way that traditional drums are enjoyed. A minimal amount of force creates a big sound on these drums. We also supply each drum with mallets designed to bring out pure tone. Our mallets are designed to eliminate “head slap” creating a very clear tone. When using mallets, hold the mallet lightly and let it drop onto the note. This creates the ideal tone. When using your hands all that is required is a light quick touch from the pad of your finger.
Playing with your hands takes some practice. Use the pad of only one finger to strike the note. Hit the note at the top of the tongue, your target area is towards the top, in the middle of the tongue. Index or middle fingers or the side of your thumb are all ok too. Do not use the tip of the finger but rather the full pad of your finger. Your finger should be about level with the drum before you start the motion and two to three inches above the drum. Use a wrist motion to slap the finger off of the note. Do not move your elbows, it’s all in the wrist. Let your finger lightly bounce off the note like the mallets do. Start learning on the largest notes and then once you have good technique, move to practicing on the smaller notes. Most people take a few days of practice to get good at it. Have patience, as with any new instrument it takes time and practice to learn.
The arrangement of the notes make going up and down the scale very easy. Also one hand can reach two or three notes simultaneously for chord playing.
Why choose a HAPI Drum?
- Musical Steel. We tested many different alloy compositions of sheet steel to find one that is perfect for steel tongue drum sound quality. We only use this musical steel when producing all of our drums.
- Rubber Feet. Installed on our drums is a set of sound isolating rubber feet. This allows the drum to be played in your lap or on any surface for enjoyment. If a drum does not have rubber feet installed it will sound dull and flat when set on a surface to be played.
- A Bottom Sound Port. We have carefully chosen the size of the opening port in the bottom of the HAPI Drums. It allows the sound to escape and increases the volume. It also releases the tone from the body so that the notes do not overlap each other.
- Dampening System. Additional dampening of the notes and drum body is required to keep these drums from becoming discordant and “ringy”. We have developed a breakthrough proprietary technique built into each HAPI Drum which provides excellent resonance while supplying the correct amount of dampening.
- Mallets. We supply each drum with mallets designed to bring out pure tone. Our mallets are designed to eliminate “head slap” creating a very clear tone. With a little practice, you can also play HAPI Drums by hand.
- Instruction Booklet. Each HAPI Drum comes with a complete instruction booklet on how to play the drum.
- Pentatonic Scales. The word "pentatonic" comes from the Greek word pente meaning five and tonic meaning tone. It is a musical scale that consists of five notes within one octave. Because of their arrangement, pentatonic scales are often used to introduce beginners to music. You don't need a musical background to enjoy a HAPI Drum. There are no wrong notes. You can play any note in any order and the drum will sound great.
Different HAPI drums
- Tini 6.5” - Our smallest,lightest and highest voiced drum. Great for children and those wanting to learn music. Includes a booklet of nursery rhyme songs to play.
- Mini 8” - Small, light and high voiced. Big sound small size. Camping, traveling and jamming. Choose from intuitive pentatonic scales.
- Aura 10” - Medium size, light, middle voice. Yoga, meditation and sound therapy. Intuitive pentatonic scales.
- Slim 12” - Medium size, medium weight, middle to low voiced. Home playing, recording and professional sound that is still portable. Intuitive pentatonic scales. An all-around great drum that checks most people’s boxes.
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