Disclaimer: I don't now much about music theory.

Anyway, my wife just bought one of those, which I think is called a "tongue drum":

enter image description here

What strikes me is that, as bad as I am at playing music, whatever I randomly do on it, however I play it, it seems to make harmonious music. Or at least, much more harmonious than what I could randomly do on a piano or a guitar. My son, who is 5, plays with it too, and it just works. It seems this thing prevents anyone from playing dissonant music.

I played some other versions of this instument, which I'm pretty sure had a different number of notes, and probably organized differently, and the result was similar.

So, is there a particular method of selecting/organizing notes on an instrument which will make any sequence played with it sound harmonious? Is there a theory behind this?

  • 1
    I'd guess the note selection is either diatonic (e.g. only the white keys on a piano) or pentatonic (e.g. only the black keys on a piano). – Your Uncle Bob Sep 9 at 12:28
  • @YourUncleBob I'm pretty sure I can manage to make some rather ugly melodies only with the white keys on the piano. It doesn't seem to be the case with this instrument. – dim Sep 9 at 12:57
  • @ dim please provide a link to a place which sells that, or better yet, to a "user manual" . Having never seen this, and your picture being not-very-clear, we can't comment on what notes it produces. – Carl Witthoft Sep 9 at 14:55
  • @Carl Here is a wikipedia page: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steel_tongue_drum. And here is a random shop (there are lots of them, but those are mainly handmade/artisanal products, so there is typically no user manual/datasheet): metalsounds-shop.com/en/7-steel-tongue-drum – dim Sep 9 at 19:33
  • 2
    Well, Wikipedia says "The steel tongue drum is often tuned to pentatonic scales but can be tuned to the diatonic scale, the chromatic scale, or any set of notes the maker chooses." If even a 5-yo can't make it sound bad, my money's on pentatonic. – Your Uncle Bob Sep 9 at 19:43

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