What is the Difference Between the PANArt Hang, and HandPan?

Having had a growing number of people reaching this site asking the question, "what is the difference between Hang, and HandPan?" - I’ve decided to have a go at answering it. And some confusion surrounding this is understandable. Especially for those new to the ‘scene’. Considering that websites like the one you’re reading now (and those similar) seem to draw a pretty strong line of distinction between the two. But why?

Unfortunately however, while the question ‘what is the difference between Hang, and HandPan?’ seems like the sort of question that would have a straightforward black-and-white answer. Arguably, the answer falls very much into shades of grey. But, I shall try my best to answer it anyway.

The Difference(s) Between Hang, and HandPan

If you’re a fan of the television show ‘The Big Bang Theory’, you may be familiar with the following quote from ‘Sheldon’, stating that “...all Jacuzzi, are hot tubs, but not all hot tubs, are Jacuzzi!” And in the same way, we could (arguably - and there will be those who disagree here) say that all Hang are HandPan, but not all HandPan are Hang. With Hang being the original HandPan. And Hang being produced only by PANArt. - This would seem to be the most straightforward answer. However, arguably (and trust me, there are those who will argue very strongly) it is not the all encompassing one.

Some More Factors (Arguments) to Consider:

* Physical structure - The shells that form HandPan can be spun, deep drawn, hand-beaten, cut from steel sheets, or created in the manner of traditional steel pan, using 55 gallon steel drums. Some are nitrided, and/or undergo other complex treatments. Others aren’t, and don’t. Which is why certain HandPan could be said to be more ‘steel pan’ like than ‘Hang-like’. Bearing more resemblance to a convex steel pan, than to a PANArt Hang. Though with this said, many would argue that some of the more sought after HandPan (currently known as the ‘big four’ which in addition to the Hang itself, consists of the Halo, Bells, SPB), are the Hangs equal in every way.

* Tuning Methods - I’m not even going to begin to pretend that I understand the complexities of HandPan tuning. But, it’s clear that the quality of tuning across different makes of HandPan can differ considerably. And that in addition to being affected by the material, and shape, of the physical shell of the HandPan, it is also very much affected by the technique, and skill of the tuner. And that the more highly sought after HandPan, are tuned in a very different way, specific to this new type of instrument, over those tuned more like traditional steel pan.

The Real Reason for the Split

But even taking the above factors into account, the ‘real reason’, for right or for wrong, that Hang are referred to as separate from the growing family of HandPan, is due to PANArt themselves. If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet researching Hang then you’ll know that PANArt don’t much care for the ‘drum’ moniker that is often attached to their creation.  And additionally, they don’t much care for the title of ‘HandPan’ either. Claiming that the name is disrespectful to Trinidad and Tobago (home of traditional steel pan - you can read more about that: HERE). And so, at the time of writing at least (and presumably, as the years pass the Hang will become absorbed within), HandPan enthusiats, out of respect for PANArt, refrain from referring to the Hang as a HandPan. Which is why, on websites like this one, and most other dedicated sites, currently, you’ll see the Hang referred to as a separate entity, kept divided from the rest of its ‘kin’.

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