When played for social dances and songs, the small gourd drum plays typical Na’vi dance rhythms. Pitch changes are optional.
The playing style for the gourd drum in the context of the Dream Hunt is entirely different. A constant rapid tapping of the drum (a sound reminiscent of the ancient peyote songs of Native Americans in the southwest) while simultaneously pushing the bladder in and out creates a drone-like sound with microtonal fluctuations in pitch. This is related to the microtonal drone heard in the men’s part of Na’vi banquet songs, thought to represents the spirit of Eywa, and enhances the connection of the Dream Hunters to Eywa. (See related article on Na’vi social songs.)