Daniel Waples, and Alexei Levin - 'Crystal Waves' by DA-Harmonics

If you stumble across a YouTube video shared randomly via some kind of social networking site online, and it’s not one of Manu Delago’s, or one by Dante Bucci, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s a video featuring ‘Hang Monkey A’, Daniel Waples, of the Hang Playing Hedge Monkeys. Who has, over the last few years, rapidly become one of the most recognisable faces in Hang music. With awed video phone wielders who have stumbled across him during his travels uploading clip after clip, of his amazing solo Hang performances, and inspiring collaborations with fellow street musicians.

Yet while best known for being one of the ‘faces’ of current 'Hang' music, Daniel Waples has also embraced the ‘HandPan’ revolution as a whole, performing with as he does on his new album, in addition to the PANArt Hang, a BELLArt Bells, and a Russian made SPB. A combination that has not only lead to the creation of a truly beautiful new album. But that has unfortunately also led to Daniel Waples becoming the latest victim of PANArt’s sometimes unfathomable policies. Having been informed by Felix Rohner that “we no longer cooperate with supporters of imitation hangs”. Go figure!

However, much as we’d like to discuss endlessly the tense relationship that exists between PANArt and many of those who play their 'sound sculptures', this post is about the celebration of this new (at time of writing) project from Daniel, which, while it might have cost him the cutting off of his PANArt pipe-line, should win him increased admiration within the HandPan community at large, putting in a stunning performance as he does, collaborating with ‘Alexei Levin’ (on Grand Piano, and Mouth Harp), to produce the delicate, and calming ‘Crystal Waves’, a twelve track offering that can (and should be) listened to in its entirety, (and downloaded), over at BandCamp.com: HERE
Or alternatively, you can visit the DA-Harmonics website for more information: HERE

Harvest Harmonics Hank Drums

These have appeared in numbers for sale on ebay recently (and as such we've had people reaching this site looking for info on them), but try as I might, I can find very little information about them to share.
A basic, and colorful looking six note steel tongue drum, Harvest Harmonics Hank drums are currently being sold via ebay for just $135 (upwards), half the price of the next cheapest Hank. And while until recently no sound samples were available to listen to on-line, those who dared to buy with very little info to support their purchases are now starting to leave feedback to help others who might also be interested make up their minds before committing to buy.
You can now watch the (embedded) video to get some idea of what they sound like, and also, you can visit YouTube for a quick review (kindly offered up along with the video by 'Raku777') to get some idea of what the Harvest Harmonics Hank drum are like to play: HERE
Additionally, you can also communicate with the makers via their Facebook page:HERE

The Path to Owning a HandPan

A year or so ago I stumbled across a question on Yahoo Answers asked by an American in search of a HandPan, asking if they were available for sale 'here'. To which the top-rated answer received was “We have everything in America!” And while technically now, since the arrival of the Halo, with regards to HandPan at least, this may well be true. It doesn’t take most who fall in love with the sounds of these singing steel creations too long to realise, that popping down your local Walmart to pick one up, is not going to be an option...

The Path to Owning a HandPan

As with most things in life, there are many different paths to owning a HandPan. You could write a hand-written letter to PANArt, cross your fingers, and hope to one day be invited to Switzerland to pick-up your Hang. You could try your luck in a lottery like that for a Pantheon Steel Halo. Endure with patience the long waiting lists of the BELLArt BElls, or the Bali Steel pan. If patience isn't your strong point, and you have money in the bank, you could snap one up for an inflated price on ebay. You could become part of a HandPan focused community such as that over at Handpan.org, and perhaps with luck, acquire one from a fellow member at a price more palatable (which does happen from time to time). Or alternatively, you could keep up to date with the latest developments, and subscribe to a site like our own (see button bottom-right), in the hopes of catching a 'new' HandPan, and acquiring one early, before demand begins to outweigh supply.  With each chosen path, whether in terms of time, luck, dogged persistence, or sacks full of cash, requiring a strong commitment, of one kind; or another.

Which leads us to one particularly well documented journey, from discovery, to realization of the dream, and beyond, as recorded by the ‘Quiet American’ (AKA Pantheon Steel’s Halo Helper ‘Aaron’). Which we highly recommend you have a read of: HERE.

The PANArt Hang Meets the Eigenharp Alpha

Of all the electronic Hang, and HandPan spin-off’s we’ve come across so far, from the relatively simple ‘Hang drum’ iPad app, through to Korg Wavedrum sample sets, and the Sonic Fingers Dome Control MIDI device, the following has come the closest we’ve seen/heard so far, to mirroring (with eyes closed), the feelings invoked within us, when listening to a talented (and live) Hang musician play.

The Eigenharp

The Eigenharp is a brand of electronic instrument even more recent in its creation than the Hang itself (released in 2009), and is in essence, a highly flexible, portable, software driven controller. That utilises a matrix of velocity sensitive multi-expressive keys, to activate, and manipulate, any given chosen sample set. Through which, while the Sonic Fingers Dome Control may mirror the Hang more in appearance, the Eigenharp does a far better job, using the ever popular SonicCouture’s HandPan sample packs, of reconstructing the sound of a hand-played Hang, in terms of expressiveness.

Beautifully put together by ‘G.Bevin’ over at Matrixsynth.com, the attached video demonstrates the MK1, and MK2 Hang sample sets being played simultaniously, in what the artist describes as ‘The arrangement is very similar to what would happen if you cut a real Hang Drum in two and bend each half until it's straight, with the Ding and Gu stuck at the top end.’ And for an instrument we’d never heard of prior to this, it’s effective enough to make us consider selling yet another kidney (don’t ask where we get them all from) to pony up the cash for one of these bad boys . Awesome!

Or for more information, read the original post over at Matrixsynth.com: HERE.

Taking your Hang / HandPan on a Plane - Travelling with your HandPan

Mark Twain once wrote that “a man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way”. Buddhist teachings tell us that “there is none so wise that they cannot learn from others”. While Mr.T from the A-Team, states simply, and without question, that, “I ain’t gettin’ on no plane!”

And while each of these points of view have their virtues, historically, with the prices, and rarity of HandPan being what they are (among other issues, such as PANArt refusing to re-tune Hang these days) I’ve been inclined to agree with Mr. T, and not risk it. But when an accomplished HandPan player like Colin Foulke steps up to share his experience of travelling the globe with his pans in tow, offering tips, and advice for the would be HandPan globetrotter. Only a fool would choose to ignore the lessons learnt by Colin (and risk the health of their HandPan), should you be considering taking your own pan(s) away with you. Covering as his excellent post does over at handpan.org, how to get your instruments through security relatively unscathed, advice for boarding, in-flight, and amongst other gems, the sharing of a tip told by Daniel Waples of the Hang Playing Hedge Monkeys, in which the Hang cavity can be used to store a weeks worth of clothing inside of it, for those wishing to travel light, or make optimum use of their luggage space.

So like any good Buddhist on the path to enlightenment, or merely a HandPan enthusiast hoping to minimise risk to their ‘baby(s)’ while travelling. You can pop on over and read Colin’s post in full (and/or share any of your own experiences in travelling with Hang/HandPan): HERE.
Or alternatively, you can visit Colin Foulke over at his own personal website: HERE.
© HandPans Magazine