Common Misconceptions About RAV Vast

In this article we'll break some of the most common myths and misunderstandings about RAV Drums.
As one of the more unique instruments around, the RAV is subject to a lot of curiosity, but also some misunderstanding about what it is, what kind of music or sound it produces and belongs with, and who it is for. Let's address some of these myths so you can make an educated decision about owning your first (or fourth) RAV!
Myth: I have to be a musician or understand music theory to play or learn the RAV.

Reality: absolutely not! In fact, the RAV is one of the most beginner-friendly instruments out there. Even a young child can learn how to play in just minutes. The instrument is extremely responsive to almost any kind of percussive technique, from a slap to a mallet strike, and immediately produces a rich and rewarding sound, encouraging even novices without any musical experience to enjoy their instrument for hours.

The number of notes in a given RAV are also smaller than on an instrument like a piano or guitar, and the fact that they all belong to the same scale means that beginners will not produce any unwanted dissonant or unpleasant sounds, without needing any music theory. In fact, a complete beginner could conceivably go from first touch to first performance in a few weeks. Which brings us to our next myth from the opposite side of the musical spectrum...

Myth: the RAV is a musical novelty, interesting but not suited to serious performance.

Reality: the RAV is an incredibly versatile instrument. While it is extremely accessible and easy to learn, it is also capable of great power and expression in the hands of a master musician, as listening to a recording of a world-renowned percussionist like Nadishana will demonstrate. In fact, there are trained musicians who have made the RAV their primary instrument and perform in venues from coffeehouses to concert halls. There also a growing number of RAV teachers and online instructional videos, articles, and courses, for advanced students.
Myth: a RAV only has about 9 notes. I'll get tired of it - there just isn't enough to explore or play with!

Reality: First, while the RAV does have a smaller note range than, let's say, a violin, there are a great deal more notes involved than might initially appear. Each tone field has four to seven harmonics which can be isolated! Learning how to do this is part of the fun and advanced technique of the instrument.

Second, recognize that it is a percussion instrument. The majority of percussion, outside of keyboard percussion like marimba, also has a limited pitch range, but that doesn't make them less interesting or versatile. For example, a cymbal is just at home and useful in rock, jazz, classical, and any number of other genres. There are an enormous range of hand percussion techniques (slides, knuckles, different slaps, finger tremolo, etc.) and equipment (gloves, rings, a large variety of mallets) that can dramatically change the tonal texture of the RAV. In addition, there are an enormous number of rhythms and time signatures to explore. Have you ever heard a great drummer play a snare solo?

Finally, many non-percussion instruments are also circumscribed in range, from the human voice (the average person, and many professionals, actually have a fairly limited range), to world instruments like the didgeridoo, even to a classical instrument like the Baroque trumpet. Yet those musicians still find ways to tell fascinating stories with them. It's as much about what you bring to the instrument and your creativity as what the instrument offers. The great rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen's technician once noted that many guitarists had tried playing through his instrument and set up, but nobody sounded like him.

Myth: There's a certain "right" way to play RAV.

Reality: There is no right way to play it. Watch the video below!
How to play RAV Vast: different ways to play
Join us as we debunk more common myths about the Vast in the Part 2 article on this blog!

The article is written by David Duan, all rights reserved, copyright 2018.
David Duan
Composer, cellist, and sound healer
A Dean's Recognition Award recipient and multiple concerto competition winner, he has performed around the world with a variety of ensembles and orchestras. A graduate of New York University and the Peabody Preparatory of the Johns Hopkins University, he lives in Maryland.

Please contact david.duan@nyu.edu for information, gigs, commissions, collaboration, and more.

Instagram: davidduan
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