The muted tone differs from open tone in that you let your hand or finger rest on the head after you strike it. Think of the muted tone as carrying you to the next accented note. Keep your hands relaxed and barely move them. You generally play muted tones softer than open tones. All you really hear with a muted tone stroke is a light touch of your fingers against the head.
The purpose of the muted tone stroke is to subtly provide the pulse of the rhythm. Muted tones are the unaccented notes of hand drums that you feel rather than actually hear. They’re the background patter that gives a rhythm its sense of movement.