What Is A Handpan (and Why They Don’t Want You To Call It A Hold Drum)?

What Is A Handpan (and Why They Don’t Want You To Call It A Hold Drum)?

The handpan or "dangle" is a convex steel drum performed with the palms and tuned with multiple notes. Every handpan is tuned to a selected scale reminiscent of major, natural minor, harmonic minor, hijaz, mixolydian, etc. Sonically the handpan is an overtone-emitting instrument that has the capacity to create many layers of sound and ethereal results and works very effectively with drone instruments. Originally called the dangle (pronounced "hah-ng") the handpan was invented in 2001 by a bit of firm in Switzerland. We’ll tell you why you should not call it a "hang drum" in a little bit, but first:

Origin of the Handpan/Hold

In the 1970s the Trinidad metal drum sparked a phenomenon throughout Europe. Felix Rohner had been enjoying the steel pans for twenty years and by the 1990s, he based his own company, PanArt, for the creation of these concave instruments. Sabrina Scharer, who would turn out to be his lengthy-time period business accomplice, signed on to PanArt shortly after.

A Swiss jazz and steel pan musician, Reto Weber, traveled to India and approached PanArt on the lookout for a strategy to play the steel drum along with his hands, as he had carried out with the Indian ghatam (clay drum) asking, "Can you make a ghatam with notes?" The inspiration for the Hold and what was later to be called the Handpan was born.

Trinidad Metal Pan - Photo courtesy of cestlavibe.com
Trinidad Metal Pan – Photo courtesy of cestlavibe.com
Felix and Sabrina revolutionized the Trinidad metal drum by flipping a custom hand-hammered metal pan from a concave to a convex position. Each of the seven to eight notes have been then made profoundly delicate to the lightest contact, permitting musicians to play the instrument by hand. The center word of the instrument, referred to as "the ding" bubbles out from the middle whereas the notes of the musical scale circling across the ding and up the sides of the pan are sunken into the metal as you'd see with a traditional Trinidad steel pan, besides with an additional dimple within the center of the note.

The tuned convex pan was then sealed along with a robust adhesive and resonating chamber of thicker metal with an opening within the center (called the "Gu" that can be played percussively when the instrument is flipped upside down), creating an aesthetically mysterious UFO shape.

Felix and Sabrina called the instrument "the Hold" (pronounced hah-ng), merely that means, "hand" of their Swiss-German dialect. They took authorized rights over the name "Dangle" underneath PanArt. The Dangle was formally offered to the public in 2001 in Frankfurt, Germany and instantly the devices grew to become fashionable for his or her beautiful and mysterious tone and distinctive scales. The desire for the Hold started to develop rapidly. Nevertheless, Felix and Sabrina approached the Hold as a work of art, not a commodity and refused to mass-produce their creation, making solely Buy a hand pan limited number each year by hand.

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