The Tongue Drum, the world's oldest form of instrument, has been used for millenia by tribes throughout the world as both a story-telling instrument and war drum. Originally crafted from hollowed out tree bark, it has evolved into a modern instrument with multiple tunings, sizes and variations. Earsmack Music has created the next evolutionary step by adapting the tongue drum to the iPhone age. So how does the digital version compare to the real thing?
The Tongue Drum app has an expectedly simple interface utilizing all but a few pixels of the screen. Whatever isn't being used a control surface contains the necessary menu functions. Through tuning menu, the user can choose from 11 different drum tunings including Natural Minor, major, blues, chromatic, and pentatonic scales.
Adding to the application's depth is the mallet menu, where as the name suggests, Tongue drum lets you choose which type of mallet you would like to strike the drum with. Beside the standard rubber ball, waxed cork and waxed dowel mallet, there's an interesting analog option, which generates a sound more reminiscent of a synth harp than a drum. Utilizing the legendary Moog Voyager as a source, the synth notes are complete and offer a full range often lacking when an option differs from all the others to such a degree.
The drum samples themselves are wonderful, mostly owing to the fact that they were recorded using a real hand-crafted tongue drum. It's interesting to note that finding such a drum is very difficult and the creators of the app mention TongueDrum.com as their source for the instrument. You should definitely take a look at their work if your looking for a serious hand-crafted tongue drum to add to your percussion collection. However if your looking for a cheaper, more practical alternative, the Tongue Drum app from Earsmack Music is more than adequate.