Tuning a 2nd Gen Hang

Today I had the pleasure of tuning a second generation Hang made by PanART.  Dan Price (check out his website, art, and music) acquired this treasure knowing that it would need to be tuned, and I’m glad he asked me!

Because of my work in studying the specific tuning methods of PanART over the last couple of years, I was confident that I could get this special sound sculpture sounding the way it did when it was originally made.

It had been quite some time since I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and really analyze a second generation Hang.  Most Hang tuning work is for the classic “first gens”, since there were over four thousand of them made.  For reference, less than nine-hundred second generation Hangs were made. 

When comparing the tonefields of the first gen and second gen Hanghang (plural for Hang), the evolution of the note shaping is very evident.  First gens still have some more defined boarders at times, and the true anticlastic structure isn’t always there.  Perhaps this is due to people improperly tuning them, or maybe PanART themselves were still practicing their own tuning technique and the consistency simply wasn’t there yet.  After all, they were REALLY pumping the first gens out, so I wouldn’t blame them.

The 2nd Gen Hang Vs. The Iskra

It was fun to compare this second gen with my most recent Iskra handpans.  The smoothness of the borders, the springy feel to the tonefields, and the overall shape of the tonefields was nearly identical.  Over the years I’ve wondered if I was ‘getting it right’ in regards to practicing these new and unique tuning methods, and I’m more confident now in saying that I’ve been on the right track.

Most of the work involved bringing dynamic stability back into the tonefields, along with the general adjustments of the tonefield frequencies.  I’m happy with the result so far, so it’s time to let it sit around for a day or two to see how it takes the tuning.  After that, it will be sent back to Dan!

I also ended up making a video of this tuning process which may be released in the near future, so keep an eye out!

For now, here is a before and after tuning video of this second generation Hang.

Beware of Recent Handpan Scams

The handpan instrument has been rapidly growing in popularity since its birth over eighteen years ago.  Not too long ago, it was incredibly difficult to even get the opportunity to purchase one.  This situation led to the appearance of poorly crafted instruments at insanely high prices; handpan scams, as they were known.  The community did a great job of warning newcomers of these cheaply made instruments, though some still fell victim to them. If you are one those persons that like to keep the garden in a good shape, you need to have the best 4 Cycle String Trimmer, with is machine your work is going to be easier.

Fast forward to the current day. 

If someone wants to buy a handpan right this instant, even a handpan of great quality, it’s not a very difficult task.  The prices will still be high (for quality handpans), because after all, these are handcrafted musical instruments.  So while the availability has drastically increased, the demand for a cheap handpan still exists.

Lately, many scams have come forth from foreign countries.  Advertisements for these can be see across various social media platforms, offering ‘handpans’ for as little as $160.  Needless to say, many people have already fallen for these ‘too good to be true’ deals and have found out the hard way that they were complete scams.  To be clear, these poor individuals never even received a package; the scammers took their money and ran for the hills. 

To make it worse, these scammers are using videos, names, pictures, and other media from well-known handpan builders and handpan musicians.  Obviously, this is completely illegal, but since they reside in foreign countries, little can be done to completely shut them down.

How Do We Fight Them?

If you see these scams on social media, and you are certain of it, then please be sure to report the post so actions can be taken to prevent more people from losing their money.  You can also help out by spreading the word to any friends and family who you think may be tempted by these handpan scams.

For those looking for guidance on the reputable handpans, there are many resources to turn to. There are some groups on Facebook, such as the “Handpan Community” where folks new to the handpan can ask questions. Also be sure to check out Sylvain Paslier’s guide to choosing a good handpan here.

A Look Inside the Symphonic Steel Workshop with Sylvain Paslier!

Many people wonder why handpans are so incredibly expensive. While I plan to attack this topic with great fervor in the near future, I think the following video will help bring a little light to it for now.

A while back I had the great pleasure of showing Sylvain Paslier of sylvainpasliermusic.com around the Symphonic Steel workshop. Sylvain was able to make a mini-documentary of the many steps involved in building an Iskra handpan, and we even got the opportunity to sit down for a bit and chat! We discussed how I got into tuning steel at such a young age, who influenced me, and also spoke about my hobbies outside of hitting steel with hammers.

Sylvain did a fantastic job on this video. It gives great insight to the arduous process of manufacturing these unique musical instruments. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed filming it.

Thank you, Sylvain!

Don’t forget to check out Sylvain’s Handpan blog as well!

Check it out below!

What is a Hang Drum? (or Handpan?)

What is a hang drum? Is it even correct to call these flying saucer instruments ‘hang drums’? These are the questions I answer in this short but informative video!

In one sentence….

A hang drum is a hand-played percussive musical instrument made from two steel hemispheres.

But there is so much more to it than that!

Long story short, the term ‘hang drum’ is a big misnomer.

The origin of the term is due to the fact that the original sound sculptures have a brand name of “Hang”, and were produced by PANArt, a small two-person company based in Bern, Switzerland. People associate percussion instruments as being drums (which is not always the case; pianos are percussion instruments), and since the Hang is played by the hands, people started calling it a drum.

The most widely accepted generic term used today is “handpan”. While PANArt does not consider the Hang to be a handpan, many people will disagree. I won’t get into the politics of that here, as it is a lengthy discussion with no clear cut answer.

At first, the generic term created by PANArt was “sound sculpture”. This term, however, never really caught on. Perhaps it is too wordy and is not descriptive enough.

Regardless, many of us in the handpan world are in a constant battle of trying to inform people of the proper terminology. Why are we so adamant about this?

Simple. Hang, the brand of sound sculpture from PANArt, is trademarked.

Therefore, we cannot refer to our own instruments as “hang drums” or the like. This makes bringing the handpan to the world much more difficult if everyone is searching for ‘hang drums’ instead.

But where did the Hang come from?

As mentioned above, the Hang was invented by PANArt around the year 2000, from a small workshop in Bern, Switzerland. Prior to the Hang, PANArt was manufacturing steel pans, specifically, the Pang instruments. The Pang instruments were a new kind of steel pan that they had been developing for years Anyways, the Hang was the manifestation of an idea sparked by Reto Weber, a Ghatam musician, who asked PANArt to put their sounds of singing steel into something that could be played with the hands.

After some prototypes and development, the first sound sculpture was created; the Hang.

As demand increased, more people eventually started creating similar versions of the Hang, and thus the handpan was born. There is MUCH more to this story which will be told in future posts.

Read about more history of the hang and handpan here.

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