THE SACRED SOUND OF THE HANG AND THE HANDPAN
Whether you’ve walked down a street and heard the mesmerising echoes, been to a Festival and witnessed a frenetic jam by the campfire or seen one at a concert or healing meditation, heard it in movies and soundtracks – the handpan has no doubt captivated your heart and your attention.
Originally invented by PANArt’s Felix Rohner and Sabina Schaerer in Bern, Switzerland, the Hang has been researched and developed, refined and tuned to produce an immaculate sound and truly memorable experience both in playing and listening. The steel pan drum was the inspiration behind PANArt’s development of the Hang instrument (often incorrectly referred to as a ‘drum’ due to the percussive way many people play it and the obvious logical association).
PanArt ceased production of the Hang a few years ago, leaving their trademark creation and venturing once more into other creations of steel, such as the Gubal and Hang Gudu
I first discovered this fascinating new cultural explosion in 2005 floating on the Sienne River in a beautifully converted house-boat in south Paris. I laid hands on an early ‘first generation’ Shang Diao Hang, and after finding my own in Knock On Wood Music shop in the UK, it kept me inspired but not fulfilled for 7 years.
Most memorably, I was witness and catalyst to an increasing UK contingent of players, makers and fans which was seeded by a weekend in Somerset with PanArt’s founding creators and a few other key characters who then went on to organise the greatest annual HandPan event (in my most humble opinion) the HangOut UK….a now legendary gathering, frequented by pan-continental freaks and scientists, musical wizards and metal-minded shaman…
‘Handpan’ became the new generic term for the hotly-debated and ever-evolving new form of both the melodic and percussive, uniquely blended to create the inspiring and spell-binding steel sculpture.
Ever-increasing numbers of alternative producers has meant an increasingly relaxed first-hand market and for those slightly more determined, getting hold of a pan should not be too hard a task. Take a look at the new Handpan makers Google Map prepared by Alessio of HardCase Technologies
This site pays homage to years of hard, well-oiled and determinedly skilled efforts and the increasing numbers of similar ‘sound sculptures’ commonly called ‘handpans‘ – including makes such as the Pantheon Steel Halo, Saraz Handpan, Bells, SPB, Bali Steel, Inner Sound and Aciel. I hope you find enough inspiration here to carry on looking further and pursuing your own unique connection to both the amazing form and medium that is the steel handpan.
Many new makers have fairly regular flash sales on Facebook, their own websites or ebay. One example of a handpan I play, the Gaia, was obtained via the Dave’s Island Instruments webshop when a flash sale was announced 24 hours in advance via their newsletter.
Pantheon Steel (makers of the Halo) administer such a gloriously calculated lottery/sale/list system that they’re almost better at being fair than making handpans! Check out their site and fine creations.
Another super-high quality producer is Saraz Handpans, Mark Garner and Josh Rivera being the protagonist experi-mentalists!
The Handpan facebook group is a good place to connect too!
The truth is, if you tap into the community and make friends, you might find a path that leads to playing and eventually getting a handpan. A quest that has been known to border on the mystical for some handpan players! If you’re serious about buying second hand (or even apparently first hand), then you need be VERY wary of scams – they are rife on ebay and other such selling portals. View the brief handpan buying guide and if you still have ANY DOUBT AT ALL then you should consult other users at www.handpan.org – you will very quickly get to the truth if you’re unsure.
The forum here is now only for archive purposes and not actively used. The majority of experienced handpan players can be found at www.handpan.org where you’ll have no problem making friends and finding out more about many different topics. In the meantime, have a look through this site to get some good background info.
You can also view the, sort of, exhaustive list of Handpan Players and Artists Directory
IF YOU CREATE MUSIC WITH A HANDPAN and have RECORDED MUSIC with CD’s to sell, share, gift or give then PLEASE do let me know if your are not on our Hang Artists Directory – look forward to hearing from you.
Good luck and enjoy what has been, for me, a fascinating exploration of a totally stunning musical and expressive form and a great aid in self-actualisation!
All the best,