lectronice → notes

RAV Vast

A high-end steel tongue drum

The modern Russian weapon against silence :: 2021-03-04

The RAV Vast is a musical instrument invented by a Russian engineer, Andrey Remyannikov, in 2013. While technically a steel tongue drum, its size, price range and sound quality make it quite similar to a handpan.

The first part of the instrument's name comes from the online handle of its inventor, while "Vast" aptly refers to its musical capabilities.

It has a sound of its own, with an especially long sustain and deep harmonics, and offers a huge variety of playing techniques compared to simpler drums. It's a interesting alternative to handpans, since it's twice cheaper (though definitely not cheap) and way sturdier.

Compared to other steel tongue drums, the RAV Vast is built with a special internal structure, where metal shafts link some specific parts of the shell to others in order to create richer harmonics and finer tuning. Every tongue can produce more than a single note. Depending on where it's hit and how it's touched, with a little practice, it's possible to isolate harmonics or shift octaves.

There are currently 18 available scales, ranging from standard and easy to grasp to exotic and harder to play. All drums have nine notes, except the Celtic Double Ding, the B Kurd and the F# In Sen, which have one more. These models have two smaller tongues where the highest note is usually set.

After two years playing my tiny Rammerdrum 9", it was time for a change. I hesitated for a long time between a YW Pulsar with a custom Ursa Minor scale and a RAV Vast. I finally chose the latter, with a B Kurd scale.

It was more expensive, but I liked the scale, and ten notes looked enough. Another key factor was the popularity of the instrument. I'd be sure to find many ressources for learning to play, such as David Charrier's RAV course.

Without a doubt, the RAV Vast is the most beautiful thing I ever owned. It looks, feels and sounds absolutely wonderful, and brings me joy every day. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in a high quality steel tongue drum.

But keep in mind that it won't play itself. Making pretty sounds is easy with a RAV Vast. But learning percussion and drum rudiments, developing rhythmic skills and a basic understanding of music theory? It's a lot of work.