Homemade Musical Instruments — Drums — Tubular Drums
Melodic Tube Drums
On this page, you will learn how to make a set of tubular drums that can play melodies! It includes: 1) Virtual Tube Drums you can play right now on your computer; 2) directions on how to build a 5-note set of tube drums; and 3) information on building and playing an 8-note set of tube drums. Also, if you're participating in Science Olympiad, be sure to check out our Science Olympiad Addendum. So take a couple of minutes, play the virtual tube drums, learn how to make your instrument, and discover all of the great sounds your drums can produce.
Virtual Tube Drums
Our Virtual Tube Drums play the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th notes
of the Major Scale. It's called the Pentatonic Scale
As you will hear, the longer the tube, the lower the pitch — the shorter the tube, the higher the pitch.
Start by clicking your mouse on each drum head (below). Then, choose a song and start playing. The sounds you hear were produced by playing each drum by hand. If you would like to make this instrument, just follow the directions below.
Building a 5-note set of Melodic Tube Drums
Begin by getting approximately 10 feet (3 meters) of 2-inch diameter ABS pipe.
1) Cut the tubing into the five sections listed on the left.
2) Cut five 2-inch circles from a rectangular plastic baby wipe container.
3) Glue a plastic circle on top of each tube — allow the glue to set.
4) Arrange tubes 1, 2 & 3 over a piece of duct tape that is 30 inches (76 centimeters) long. Apply a drop of glue between each tube in line with the duct tape.
5) On tubes 1-3, apply drops of glue (in line with the duct tape) where 5 & 6 will make contact. Carefully place tubes 5 & 6 on top of tubes 1, 2 & 3. Position tubes 5 & 6 to be 1-inch (3 centimeters) higher than tubes 1, 2 & 3.
6) Apply a drop of glue between tubes 5 & 6, and tightly wrap the duct tape around the 5-tube set — allow the glue to dry before moving the instrument.
7) After the glue is completely dry, hold the instrument under your left arm and play with your right hand. Quickly strike/tap the drum heads (plastic circles) near the center to produce the best sound — as shown below.
If you would like to build an 8-note set that plays many more songs, see below.
Building an 8-note set of Melodic Tube Drums
Phil and his daughter, Sarah, have created a special resource on building and playing melodic tube drums. It includes step-by-step instructions, sheet music written in treble clef, and play-along music tracks. It has everything you need to be successful with your project, from beginning exercises to duets and quartets you can play with your friends. Just like our water bottle xylophone, glockenspiel, panpipes, fraction tubes, and didgeritubes,our melodic tube drums are tuned to play an 8-note scale in the key of C — and if you want more than 8 tubes in your set, check out our new Science Olympiad Addendum!
2014 Science Olympiad Addendum
|If you would like to build a percussion instrument for the 2014 Division B Science Olympiad Competition, Phil and Sarah have now included all of the tube lengths to make "Instrument 2" for the Sounds of Music event. In their addendum, you will learn the pitch names, exact tube lengths (in centimeters), and frequencies (in Hertz) for all 27 notes in the “allowable scoring range” between C2 and D4. The tube lengths are tuned and calibrated to an "A-440", and the frequencies they produce are precisely based on the “12 tone tempered scale.” Additionally, you will learn exactly which tubes to play for the required “C Major Scale (C3-C4)”, as well as the formula for equal tempered tuning. This addendum is now included at no extra charge in the above package, "Building and Playing Melodic Tube Drums" by Phil and Sarah Tulga.|
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