#microUMA What’s in a name?

Wow so this is so intersting! I wasn’t expecting my research to go in this direction, but when you are trying to explore and understand something, the search terms that you use are crucial to that process and to finding missing links and connections, and figuring out the right search terms for what I’m looking for isn’t so straight forward!

From what I’ve been reading, people have been making sound through hitting things for as long as forever. All throughout history and across all cultures, traditions, and geographic locations, people have innovated percussive instruments to make sound, and have used them for a variety of reasons – to get people’s attentio/communication (signalling a start, calling for prayer, warning of attack, marking time), for celebration and ceremony including as part of religious and/or spiritual traditions, to ward of bad/evil things including approaching storms, for relaxation/meditation/healing, in protest and conflict. The instrument that I bought, mentioned in my first post, is a percussion instrument – sound is made by hitting it – but more specifically, it is an idiophone. This means, that it is the instrument itself, that makes it’s sound, as wiki explains, “An idiophone is any musical instrument that creates sound primarily by the vibration of the instrument itself, without the use of air flow (as with aerophones), strings (chordophones), membranes (membranophones) or electricity (electrophones).

Therefore, my instrument is not a drum? As a drum has a membrane.? The instrument I have is surely an idiophone, but I when I bought it, it was labelled as a tongue drum. Why is it called a drum, when it isn’t a drum? The roots of the instrument I have are hard to figure out – some say it was invented by a guy called Dennis Havlena in 2007, wiki mentions it’s also called known as a hank and tank drum – hank comes from merging the two words hang, and tank (referencing the propane tank it’s made from). Dennis Havelena writes more about this on his website (where the design and instructions for making it are open source, which is awesome becuase other folk have patented similar instruments) that it was inspired by another instrument called ‘hang drum’ which is a patented design and expensive. On his website, he says: “hank drum: inspired by the hand pan/hang“.

As I read more and more, I feel like I’m tuning in to a world of instrument creators, innovators, imaginers, manifestors. I just watched this video showing a guy making a tank drum – it’s amazing- and it’s made me think about the person that made my drum, who I know is local to Devon – I think I might have found who made it, and I’ve messaged them to see if I can find out more about it. But I think there is this community/network of pretty badass instrument craftsfolk out there, making these things. And in some cases like the hang, innovating a design, patenting it, and then moving on to innovate another design, taking it out of production which then leads to a scarcity of the intstrument where the artists who created it’s interest and time/capactity has moved on to create the next iteration/something new.

Anyway, there are so many different names flying around to describe the instrument – some names are protected through patents, like the hang. Maybe drum is used in reference to the material used to make it, steel drums for example are also technically pans, but as I understand it are called drums in reference to the oil drums that they are made from. Is it ok to rename an instrument that has been made by someone, for your own personal understanding of it? When I play my ‘tongue drum’, I don’t feel that it is a drum, becuase of the material it is made from, how it sounds and also how it’s played really. I’d rather call it a pan I think, but that feels harder to say. And in researching it, my search terms are dipping between the different terms to try to find out as much as I can and trace this quite amazing creative landscape of instrument creation.

4 thoughts on “#microUMA What’s in a name?

  1. We have a drum set (well arthur does) if you want to try it out for experience / research come over any time xx

    Charlotte Phillips 07887 874428 Sent from my iPhone

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