ART SCENE BY PAM HUNT
Vermont Singing Drum Bringing meditative music to the masses
nside the atelier-filled Howard Space Center on the corner of Pine and Howard Streets, a soft, soothing gong sound greets visitors, creating a peaceful vibe in an otherwise humming hive of activity. This Zen-like music originates in the Vermont Singing Drum workshop, where Tim Danyliw crafts his meditative creations. These instruments—which share only a name with their loud, percussive cousins—are also works of art, their polished surfaces resembling modern sculpture.
CREATING ARTISTIC DRUMS Tim created his first metal drum around six years ago. He has always enjoyed working with his hands, so he decided to marry his musical skills—playing drums and guitar, singing, and 24 | www.bestofburlingtonvt.com
composing—with his knowledge of metalworking to transform a 15-gallon steel propane tank into a usable instrument. Though this prototype lacks the grace and beauty of his later drums, it is still playable and, when struck with a mallet, resonates with a hollow, metallic tone. Today, Tim employs a metalworking shop in Ohio to form the sheets of steel into his designed shape, but he still tunes each instrument by hand. “These drums incorporate a lot of different steel-working tools,” he says. He first cuts the keys using a plasma cutter. Then he grinds the edges of the keys, checking the tones with an electronic tuner until the pitch is perfect. Each drum features keys in a pentatonic scale, meaning a player can’t hit a wrong
combination of notes because they’re all in the same family. Although the Zen G and the Bliss A drums are his biggest sellers, “every scale has its own personality,” Tim explains. “Generally, the higher the scale, the happier the feeling. If you get down to the Ds, the E minors, those have a gongier sound, a deeper sound, that is rich and grounding.” A DESIGN FOR RESONANCE While the concept of making a percussion instrument out of metal is not unique, every craftsperson has his or her own design. Many of the 150 or so other shops that produce steel drums for musicians are seeking a short, percussive sound from their instruments, but Tim doesn’t seek to shorten the resonance of his creations.
Published on Sep 5, 2017
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