The Iskra

For information with regards to price and how to purchase an Iskra, please click here.

The “Iskra” is a new handpan/pantam/sound sculpture release from Symphonic Steel. The material and tuning techniques used to manufacture a Symphonic Steel Iskra are very similar to those of the originators in Bern, Switzerland. These building methods therefore yield a result similar to the original instrument that sparked it…… “Iskra” means ‘spark’ in Slovak.

Many, if not all, handpans produced nowadays are built with techniques originating from the world of the Steel Pan, which is the instrument created by the very ingenious people of Trinidad and Tobago.  It is the reason that the Iskra is preferably referred to as a “sound sculpture”, as opposed to a “handpan”.  While the Iskra sound sculptures and handpans look and sound similar to each other, there is a difference in building methods which have a resultant timbre and feel that makes them distinctly different from handpans.

The following is a bit of history to help clarify some things.  Please not that while I would like to pay homage to the original creators of the first sound sculptures, legal reasons will keep me limited to referring to them as the “originators”.  Nevertheless, my gratitude towards their ground-breaking research in the field of tuned steel remains.

A now famous pair of steel tuners from Switzerland, inspired by the steel pan, wanted to carve their own path in the world of tuned steel.  Their extensive research lead to new materials, new building methods, and new tuning techniques.  These changes yielded a similar tone to the steel pan, but with different, subtle characteristics.  These techniques were first applied to the steel pans they produced.  However, some years down the line, a hand-played instrument was born from their workshop.  This is where these new advancements in the art of steel tuning really shined through.  The result was an instrument that took the world by storm in only a few years; a remarkable achievement.

In the years following the release of their instrument, many new manufacturers followed suit at their request.  However, not all of these new builders wanted to go down the same path as them (while some others simply did not understand the research and changes by the originators).  These Swiss builders remained the only ones to build their instrument using their own techniques and material.  Sadly, they eventually stopped building their original version of the instrument and have since moved on to other forms based upon their years of research.

No other manufacturer has managed to achieve the same sound and feel as the original instrument that inspired it all, yet many people have been left yearning for that sound.

After months of my own heavy research coupled with painstaking trial and error, I am now happy to produce an instrument that very closely matches the sound of the original instrument.  This new release from Symphonic Steel is the “Iskra”.  While the material and building techniques are very similar to those of the Swiss originators, there are a few subtle changes that, in my personal opinion, improve the instrument just a tad more.  For now, these small changes will remain under wraps, but perhaps will be known one day.

The difference between the Iskra and other “handpans” is quite obvious when one gets the chance to play one in person.  The tonefields have incredible responsiveness with a very wide dynamic range.  A soft, light touch is all that required to get a nice and pure tone, yet the Iskra can also be played at forte levels as well.

While the Iskra is a very new release, I do hope to produce many more for the world to hear.  In the mean time, please enjoy listening to one of the latest Iskras I have built.