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January 2018

~Armando being introduced to a Tongue Drum.

So, I’m on a 6-train heading downtown and this panhandler began to recite some sort of poem for people that had headphones on. I didn’t really pay attention to his act until this other person that was sitting across from me revealed an instrument that resembled a miniature steel-drum but was combined with a xylophone, ( hard to picture but it kinda sounded like one too! ). As the character recites his words, the drummer gently tapped this object and the most euphonic sounds sang to my ears and I swear, it brought joy to my heart. The fifteen second performance left me mesmerized because of the soothing metallic audio but also left me puzzled considering it produced a random soliloquy. I even gave the “poor poet” a few bucks as he passed by me but once the train stopped, the individual (who was playing this instrument in front of me), almost vanished off the train. I truly thought they were in it together and was part of a some sort of obscure performing group (You’ll see ANYTHING on a NYC subway). Luckily, it was my stop as well and when I made it out the platform, I approached this mysterious person with the mystifying object and asked him what was that all about without fainting from excitement. He replied in a raspy voice that it was a tongue-drum and was amazed that I’ve never seen one before. What rock do I live under?


When I made it back to my place, I looked up this instrument and found out what its uses were (I almost bought one too) and basically learned that physics along with mathematics deal with sound purity. The frequencies of a main tone and it’s overtones perfectly correlate with each other, which consists in the correct proportions of 1:2:3:4: 5, etc. (Good thing I was a percussionist in grade school..) That is when their sound waves will beautifully and harmoniously merge into a single mellow tone, complementing each other (hence the soliloquy). The “mellowness” is formed by the number of overtones and the tone quality is formed by the balance in the sound volume ratio of all overtones. I know this sounds a bit confusing but if just hear on youtube, all what I said would make more sense.

From listening for a moment and in my opinion, it resembles music that is promotes relaxation and meditation which reminded me that I need both. : )

Let me know if you get a Tongue-Drum!


Armando Nin reporting for Serving The People

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