Published on April 14th, 2020 | by Sunit Nandi0
The extraordinary sound of the RAV Vast Drum
Being a great fan of percussions, I’ve played many instruments including hang, opsilon handpan, djembe, frame drums, tank drums, and many others. I am always eager to experiment with some new instruments, that’s why when I first heard the sound of the RAV Vast I could stop myself from trying it as well.
There was said a lot about the handpan and the amazing sound of this drum. But the RAV Vast is an utterly different and ultimately innovative steel tongue drum. I’ve decided to examine it and find the reason for the sound of the RAV drum to be so extraordinary good.
Shape & design determine the sound
I was absolutely captivated by the voice of the RAV Vast. It’s smooth, sonorous and rich in overtones and has some certain differences from the handpan sound. Therefore, I investigated the concept behind the RAV’s sound. Both handpan and RAV Vast are based on the phenomenon oh Helmholtz resonance that provides them a very gentle voice. When you were a kid, perhaps you used to whistle with an empty bottle or an old cupboard key (just like me) – this is how this resonance works. When you blow out some air into the hole, it resonates due to the ‘springiness’ of the air inside the cavity.
The RAV Vast has also a convex shape although it’s more flattened and compact compared to the handpan. The main difference between the handpan and RAV Vast is in the place where the sound goes out. Handpan has a hole on the bottom while the RAV Vast has apertures – the tongues curved on the top of the shell.
If you look inside the handpan, you’ll see it’s empty. If you take off the RAV’s wooden plug on the bottom and look inside it, you’ll see a complex inner architecture and stiffening ribs. The wooden plug locks the sound, make it twisting and coming back and out through the apertures (you can actually remove the plug if you want, but the sound will be muffled). This architecture makes the RAV’s sound so special and provides an ever-lasting sustain.
Although it doesn’t affect the sound, I like the deep blue color of the RAV Vast. The majority of handpans are metal-brown, so the bright blue RAV catches the attention and is pleasing to the eye. The paint also protects the RAV Vast from moisture and makes it super-resistant to humidity (which is important to me, because I tend to travel and play on the beaches and some humid places).
What does the sound of the RAV consist of?
When you are listening to the musician playing, you don’t focus on the sound in particular rather than on a whole melody it is creating. However, if you are listening to the RAV Vast music podcast or trying to play by yourself, you’ll note that the RAV’s sound consists of two parts – a click and resonance. The sound of a click appears when your finger (or knuckles) is tapping the surface. The RAV’s click is very woody (or porcelain-like) and pleasant. You can even experiment with the clicking sound only involving some percussion technique playing style. The sound that comes after the click is the resonance of the metal chamber. RAV’s producers use special steel that gives the instrument a sonorous and beautiful voice.
The greatest thing about the RAV Vast that made me fall in love with it, is an incredibly long sustain, longer than one of any handpan I heard before. The sustain is an instrument’s superpower that creates many layers of sound. Depending on the tongue, you can get from 3 to 7 harmonious overtones just tapping a single note, and it’s quite a lot I should say!
What effect did I get from the RAV Vast sound?
Besides composing music, the handpans are widely used for meditation and sound-healing. Handpan music provides this relaxing effect. However, playing the handpan is harder than playing the RAV Vast and requires a lot of skills, awareness, and concentration. At the same time, the RAV Vast provides you an opportunity to not think about the note progression as all the notes are harmonically tuned with each-other. Therefore, it’s the instrument that can be played by practically anyone regardless of the mastery level.
It’s maybe the matter of taste, but I love the RAV Vast sound which seems to me much more authentic and feels closer to nature. I can use it for both music composing and meditation. I love to take the RAV Vast and compose songs or just play it mindlessly enjoying the sounds that fills in the room with its magical vibrations.