28th Oct 2014

Basic Hand Drum Strokes: Open Tone

Another fundamental stroke you can put in your arsenal of skills is the Open Tone, or Open Stroke. The open stroke requires a slap of the hand across the head of the drum to create the desired effect.

Start by positioning the palm of your hand above the rim of the drum and slightly cupping your hand. Your fingers should be extended straight and relaxed with your thumb to the side in a comfortable position.

To begin learning this tone you want to start with the fingers closed together. This will produce what is called the ‘Slap Tone’ because of the slapping motion that it requires. After you have become proficient with this, you can begin spreading your fingers apart to create the Open Tone.

As stated above, the motion is a slapping motion created with the wrists. The palm should lightly contact with the rim with most of the force being in your fingers.

The difference in tone quality between the Slap tone and Open tone is subtle but can come in handy when you need a slightly softer tone from the drum. The Open Tone can create an incredibly soft sound whereas the Slap Tone can reach an incredibly loud volume. There is of course considerable amount of overlap between the two techniques but the open tone is considered more versatile.

Once you have practiced the slap tone and have the movement down pat, you will need to further practice with the Open Tone. While the movements are the same, it will take time for you to become familiar with the feel of playing with your fingers spread wide.