The ‘Hang’ (Drum) - The World's First ‘Viral’ Instrument

Ask most people where they first heard of the ‘Hang’ (generally referred to as a ‘Hang drum’), and they’ll most likely tell you that they saw it on YouTube, or from some other online source. Working like an Internet ‘MEME’ (an idea or joke shared via the Internet) spreading across the web, the Hang has been either stumbled upon online, or shared by, ‘virtual’ word of mouth, via video sharing websites, social networks, and the like...

The most popular ‘Hang Drum’ video on YouTube (to date) is now closing in on three million views (see above-right), and there are plenty of other Hang drum videos online with views in the hundreds of thousands. The main Hang drum Facebook page has just short of six thousand ‘likes’, and searching for the term ‘Hang drum’ in Google returns over one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand results specific to the Hang...

The Hang was only born just over ten years ago (at time of writing) in the year 2000, and it seems a safe bet to assume that the instruments creators ‘PANArt’ were not prepared for the runaway appeal of their creation, just as it seems a safe bet to assume that without the Internet, the Hang would still remain a little heard of curiosity.  And in many ways it often seems as if this is what the Hang’s creators ‘Felix Rohner’ and ‘Sabina Schärer’ would have preferred for their ‘baby’, because as they became overrun by everybody and their grandmother desperately trying to get their hands on a Hang, from the outside they appeared to close ranks and close-up-shop, leaving many accusing PANArt of musical snobbery, due to the methods through which they made their 'Sound Sculptures' available only to those they deemed worthy (or in PANArt talk: 'those who resonate'), that were perceived as being elitist.

But while PANArt themselves may shy away from the commercial demand that has grown around their creation, others have been quick to rise to meet this demand. So that now numerous alternatives in the form of Hang-like HandPans such as the ‘Bali Steel HandPan’ and the ‘Casia’, and Steel Tongue Drums like the ‘MILLTONE’ and the ‘HAPI Drum', have been born in their wake (and many more have now since followed).

So while PANArt will always be credited as the creators of what is perhaps the greatest musical breakthrough of this generation, their own invention has already (arguably) outgrown them.  Meaning that as the momentum of the Hang continues to gain pace, those who now cling to their creations like a mother who refuses to let her child fly the nest, will have no choice but to step-up, or step-aside, as the popularity of (and demand for) this new instrument type continues to grow, fuelled by the viral nature of the Internet...

[Update] October 2013, PANArt announced that they will no longer be making ANY Hang.  They will however now be offering their new (and relatively speaking, similar) instrument for sale, named the 'Gubal'.  Watch videos of the PANArt Gubal: HERE

From time to time PANArt are known to take a hiatus (a break from building) during which people are encouraged not to send letters requesting Hanghang/Gubal.  Additionally, price, and/or the procedure for purchasing instruments direct from PANArt might change a little over time.  Two websites that have close ties with PANArt are 'Hang Blog', and 'Hang Forum', both of which are useful for obtaining the very latest information regarding the current status of production, and the latest guidance for the purchase of Hang/Gubal.

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