The first time I heard a steel tongue drum was in 2014, while I was sick with parasites in the Ecuadorian Amazon. I was researching the impacts of a giant Chinese-backed copper mine being developed on indigenous land and miraculously had an internet connection to provide ambient music to get me through two weeks of the joys of a gringo digestive system. Fortunately, this introduced me to the steel tongue drum, and I left the Amazon with a fresh perspective on the world: so many of our global problems come from a deep scarcity complex and obsession with spectacles in the Western mind. The creative genius is needed more than ever to break this spell of the consumer society. This is why I make Genius Drums.
I want to inspire more creative genius in the world. I offer these instruments for an honest price, allow lifetime ‘trade-it-back-for-another’ return policies, and use a regenerative business model that that incorporates nonprofit aspects into this operation. Every 7th drum I make is donated to the public good (schools, art installations, schools, music therapists, etc.).
Why Genius Drums?
Like many other makers, these steel tongue drums are made from repurposed propane tanks as invented by Dennis Havlena’s ‘Hank Drum’. However, what marks Genius Drums as genius rests in how I customize every instrument to cater to a certain form of musical expression. Each one is designed so that its player, whether beginner or advanced, is inspired and guided to intuitively express their own creative imagination.
I choose particular note layouts for different scales to allow for precise chord arrangements and melodic progressions, and this musical ‘vibe’ is reflected in the way the instrument is painted. For two-sided Genius Drums, I combine specific scales to provide a balance of musical feeling and offer sympathetic resonance, a phenomenon in which striking one note will also play its sister note on the other side of the instrument, which creates rich resonance and a stronger sound healing effect in the body.
Many other makers have monochromatic finishes or generic note layouts, but I’ve come to realize how important these particular aspects of my production can be compared to such time-saving industrial standards. There is no greater joy for me than to put a Genius Drum in someone’s hands and hear them effortlessly create beautiful music. Every detail I create in these instruments is crucial to making sure that kind of intuitive expression can happen.
I see the same faces of wonder and joy in adults and babies alike when they play steel tongue drums. I want to see more of those faces: any social media support goes a long way in helping me create more Genius Drums in the world- sharing is caring!