RAV for Percussionists

If you are a percussionist, mastering multiple instruments is par for the course. And RAV may become a good addition for you to bring some variety to play.
So, if you are a percussionist intrigued by the magical sounds of the RAV, you might be wondering how this instrument fits into your existing collection and how you can use it to make music. Not to worry. The RAV is easy to learn, especially for an experienced percussionist, and can fit easily into many different genres and styles of music!
Many hand drummers around the world play multiple drums at once, whether from the same family or not, such as a set of udus. A rock drummer will need to master the snare, cymbals and hi-hat, toms, and bass drum. An orchestral percussionist must know how to play the triangle, marimba, timpani, cowbell, among several others, and specialty instruments as well like a gong.

First of all, the RAV can provide a harmony and melody for those drummers who do not work with melodic percussion. Due to its relatively simple technique, especially with a mallet, and small number of notes, all in the same scale, it is very easy to learn and incorporate. Conceivably, you could learn how to play it and be performing with your RAV one week later!

Speaking of melodic percussion, the sound of the RAV blends well with that of other melodic percussion instruments like the marimba or vibraphone. Its deep, rich tone is great for establishing a harmonic background over which other melodic percussion can solo. The RAV is also highly capable as a solo instrument. Its unique tone will give you an additional pallets of colors in your arsenal, for highlighting certain melodies or achieving special effects and moods.
And setting up a RAV to play with the rest of your percussion set is also easy. You can place the Vast in a conga or tom-tom stand, and it also fits in a variety of other stands. You can use the same mallets as with other percussion, or your hands. And you can try angling the drum's surface towards you by placing a pad underneath between the surface of the drum and the stand, to reach it more easily.

What about different genres? While the sound of the RAV is an obvious fit with much hand percussion such as the tabla or frame drum, and ideal for more meditative or Eastern styles of music, Western and other ethnic musicians around the world may be wondering how the RAV will fit in their existing sound. The RAV is capable of a wide variety of tones, from the barest whisper of a finger, to a sharp knuckle tap, to a deep and rich mallet strike. Use your creativity, and you will find that there's always room for a RAV! Many modern percussionists employ synth pads into their sound, and the sound of a RAV, amplified to be as loud as another drum, can provide a comparable effect. Different scales, in addition to providing a different set of notes, also have different tonal qualities, so getting multiple scales gives you an even bigger set of options.
RAV Vast & Cajon improvisation
So, if you are a percussionist wondering whether to get a RAV of your own (or a second, or third, or fourth), the answer is… Yes!

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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