Invitation to Buy a Hang Cancelled - When Buying a PANArt Hang Goes Wrong!

Before we proceed - it’s important to state that (at least as far as we know) the following is a rare occurrence, and that most invitations to buy a Hang from PANArt are honored. However, with that said, the instance of refusal experienced by one Handpan.org member, is worthy of special note, and one way or another, offers useful lessons for those hoping to one day make the trip to Bern.

On Wednesday the 29th of Febuary, 2012, Handpan.org member ‘Touchesmysoul’, with a mixture of excitment, and shock, announced that she had ‘received a YES!’, from PANArt. Or in other words, she had been invited to visit PANArt in Switzerland, to select, and ultimately to purchase a Hang. Initially Touchesmysoul wasn’t 100% sure that she intended to purchase the Hang, stating that ‘I don't want to buy something for it to sit gathering dust in my house’ (a factor perhaps, that would have some influence on what would shortly follow).

However, once deciding upon at the very least, to visit PANArt, to see if she found resonance with the Hang, Touchesmysoul began to plan her trip...

Sunday April 22nd, 2012

The day that (despite much debate having taken place online (and off) concerning the 'quirks' of PANArt - with regards to the ways in which they choose to run their ‘business’), nobody saw coming. The day on which, Touchesmysoul returned to the forums with bad news. Despite having previously received an invitation to visit Bern, to purchase a Hang, her invitation had now been cancelled...

At some point over the two months in-between, PANArt (with the aid of those who whisper in the ears of Felix, and Sabina), had reached the decision that Touchesmysoul was no longer a suitable ‘candidate’, and her invitation was immediately revoked. But why? - (You'll find out shortly)

And while I personally tend to side with those who see what happened to be an ‘extreme’ (insert: 'harsh, cruel, etc.') move on the side of PANArt. It is known that PANArt’s artistic vision is extremely rigid, with little flexibility given for deviation by those who would play the Free Integral Hang (and very little forgiveness given to those who do so), And as such, with hindsight, it should have come as no great surprise to anybody. 

However, there are arguments to be made, and listened to, from both sides of the fence. And so for those who find themselves at the beginning of the ‘journey’ towards perhaps one day purchasing a PANArt Hang, for those mailing off second (third, or fourth...) letters, or for those who have already received a positive response from PANArt, the following few threads can be considered to be necessary reading (should you wish to avoid a similar fate)...

I Got a ‘YES!’ - HandPan.org

With perhaps arguably the most unfortunate lesson to be learned from the whole affair seemingly being - that with regards to the Hang, online, be careful what you say, and to whom you say it. The walls have ears!

The Disco Armonico of Jose Greenbeach

(!) This post may now be out of date - but has been left published for archive purposes.  It may still prove to be of interest, but some (or all) details may now be out of date (!).

There’s been some confusion for a while now surrounding the differences between what is generally known as ‘TheDisco Armonico, as produced by Marco Della Ratta, and the Disco Armonico frequently (at time of writing) offered for sale on eBay - by a guy named Jose Greenbeach. With questions generally falling within the realm of: what are they, who makes them, and are they a scam?

Unfortunately, as is often the case in the world of HandPan, due to their artisan nature, it can be difficult to pin down hard facts. But the following is what we know about them (or at the very least - what appears to be fact). For the benefit of those seeking more information.

* The Disco Armonico sold by Jose are not made by Marco Della Ratta.
* At some point in the past it is believed that Jose Greenbeach was a reseller of Marco’s Disco, but differences have severed that relationship, and Jose now produces his own pans.
* 'Disco Armonico' means ‘Harmonic Disk’ in Italian, where both Marco, and Jose hail from. And to some degree is used in the same way as ‘HandPan’ is used. As a generic name for Hang-like instruments. So that while Jose is often accused of attempting to cash-in on Marco’s work (with even Marco stating ‘this is a fake! i hope no one buy this fraud’- regarding one of Jose’s pans being sold on eBay), this is not necessarily the case (even PANArt Hang were sold in Italy under the name of Disco Armonico in their early days).
* It is believed that Jose now makes, and tunes these Disco Armonico himself.
* on eBay prices can vary but they are usually sold ‘Buy-It-Now’ for around $1000 (though at time of writing, prices seem to have risen).
* The Disco Armonico produced and sold on eBay by Jose Greenbeach, are generally thought of as being considerably overpriced - when comparing the quality of their sound with other HandPan of a similar price-range.
* However, despite the questionable ‘voice’ of Jose’s HandPan, his eBay feedback is (at time of writing) 100% positive. So as always, listen to the videos carefully, and decide for yourself if the sound is something that ‘moves’ you (we’re all different!), and judging by his feedback (surprisingly, some might say), he has had nothing but happy customers.
* Jose Greenbeach uses every ‘keyword’ he can, such as ‘Caisa’, ‘Halo’, and ‘Bali’, to bring more visitors to his eBay auctions. A useful, and commonly used trick for sellers, but, as always, should you be considering purchasing a Jose Greenbeach offered Disco Armonico on eBay, do your homework, and be sure that you know exactly what it is that you’re spending your hard earned money on. BEFORE hitting that Buy-It-Now button. i.e. Clue - They're not Caisa, Halo, or Bali Steel Pan.
* Jose generally provides accurate sounding videos for each of his HandPan listed for auction, and it is known that one customer who received a damaged pan was fully refunded by Jose, without issue. Which leads to the summary of this post essentially being that sound-wise, Jose’s Disco Armonico do not come close to the refined sound of, for example, the Hang, or the Halo (or even the Marco Della Ratta Disco Armonico - currently). But, Jose Greenbeach, with the provision of honest sounding YouTube clips, and a refund policy (for damaged pans at the very least), seems to be an honest seller, and an option, if you find yourself attracted to that (much) rawer sound.
For more information you can contact Jose through his eBay store: HERE (or watch more videos over at Jose's YouTube channel: HERE).

The PANArt Hang Meets the ZenDrum

While the world of HandPan is growing, and it is a little easier these days to obtain a HandPan, than in the dark days of just a few years back (at time of writing) when the Hang was the only (and an almost impossible to obtain) option. Owning, and playing a real HandPan still may not be for everybody - simply because they’ve fallen in love with the sound.

Hang, and HandPan can be very expensive. They’re relatively fragile. To a more or lesser degree they require occasional tuning, which depending upon your geographic location, (in addition to other factors), can prove to be very expensive. And, for some, only having a handful, or two of notes to play with, per pan, may prove limiting, and just might not be enough.

Which is where devices like the ‘ZenDrum’ come into play. And having seen Soniccouture’s awesome Pan drum sample pack used in some very interesting, and inspiring ways with devices such as the ‘DomeControl’, and the ‘EigenHarp’, the ZenDrum, offers another option for playing the Hang, or HandPan, without all of the complications associated with obtaining, and maintaining, one of those much-loved metallic musical discs.

The Zendrum is a MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) triggering controller designed by drummers to allow musicians to express their creativity in rhythmic and intuitive ways. However, the Zendrum can trigger ANY sound via MIDI, so it is much more than drums yet as easy to play as tapping your desk with your fingers. Unlike a keyboard, there are no moving parts to break or wear out. It is a handcrafted instrument carved from fine woods, assembled and tested by the inventors. Each Zendrum is a work of art, manufactured with careful attention to detail and high quality.
And as you can see from the embedded video (uploaded by YouTube user 'MuckleDrummer'), the ZenDrum is a pretty unusual, and very cool looking piece of kit. That comes available in a number of different styles, and finishes (with our favorites being the ones that resemble giant console joypads). And when combined with the ‘Hang drum’ sample pack, it does a pretty decent job of mimicking the Hang, in sound, and to some degree, in its relaxing, and delicately tactile style of play.
For more information on the ZenDrum, you can visit the makers website: HERE.

The Birth of a Russian HandPan

Over the last month or so (at time of writing) we’ve seen uploaded, and shared some truly amazing HandPan videos. From beautiful demonstrations of newer pans such as the Innersound / Blue Point Steel Harp, through to the truly epic Hang and HandPan comparison video
However, few, if any, are as mind-blowingly awesome, as the video uploaded by YouTube user ‘Yolemafreux’ the 25 minute plus video entitled ‘Birth of a Russian HandPan’.

Birth of a Russian HandPan, was recorded during Yolemafreux’s visit to Saint Petersburg, Russia, where he went to collect his Victor Levinson made HandPan, commonly known as the ‘SPB’ (though Victor himself neither uses this name, nor the generic name of HandPan to describe his ‘instruments’). And the video is, essentially, an approximately complete, start-to-finish documentary recording, of the building of one of Victor's pans.

From entering the workshop doors
, and the forming of the shell, through the various stages of tuning, until finally we see Victor giving the final once over to what is either a completed, or all but, ‘Victor Levinson special’. A steel shell imbued with a choir of Angels. Ready for some Russia-bound HandPan fanatic to come and collect.

You can watch the video either embedded above, or you can click HERE to watch it in all of its full-screen glory over at YouTube.

So big thanks to Yolemafreux for sharing this amazing video, and big thanks to Victor, for allowing a camera into his workshop, to record for the benefit, and interest of others, the sort of video, that some other makers would vigorously guard against.  We salute you! :)

The PANArt Free Integral Hang

At the time of writing (2012), if you’ve decided to write a letter to PANArt in order to try and ‘score’ a Hang.  Should you find yourself receiving an invitation to make the trip to Bern, the Hang that you’ll be going to collect will be of the type that is known as the ‘Free Integral Hang’ (the only model that PANArt currently produce).

What is the Free Integral Hang?

No Hang has ever divided the HandPan community like the Free Integral Hang has. Surrounded by confusion, and ‘mystique’, as it is. But for those who have been dreaming of playing a Hang, as seen on YouTube, there are a few things that you really ought to know.

* The Free Integral Hang is a very different beast from the earlier generation Hanghang, the likes of which you may have seen folk such as Manu Delago, and Dante Bucci, playing on YouTube. If the Hang could ever have been described as being simply just a beautiful musical instrument (putting all 'magickal' talk aside), that is certainly no longer the case. Because if any Hang were ever deserving of the moniker of ‘Sound Sculpture’ that PANArt would have their creation known by, the Free Integral Hang is 'it'.

* The Free Integral Hang is not tuned using any standard system of tuning. And it is not tuned using tuning software, or devices. The Free Integral Hang is tuned using the ‘evolved ear of the Hang makers’, or as the name suggests, it is ‘free tuned’, meaning that the Free Integral Hang is tuned organically with itself -as per the tastes of either Felix, or Sabina. And as such, each FIH is very much an independant entity. Unique within itself, if not in form, then in its ‘voice’.

* As stated above, each FIH is a unique entity, tuned only to itself. A musical sculpture in its truest sense. However, if you’ve been drooling over the Hang as played on YouTube, and are looking to play the Hang as a musical instrument. A Free Integral Hang, is probably not what you’ve been searching for. FIH, being organically tuned, are not only (to a more or lesser degree) independantly tuned even from other FIH (meaning that even the voices of two individual FIH may not gel), but not being tuned to any standard system of tuning, the FIH is almost definetly not going to sound ‘good’ played with other instruments, and arguably, as a ‘musical instrument’ (in the standard sense), the FIH can even sound a little 'out-of tune’, even when played on their own. With the Free Integral Hang, instead, generally being thought of as a more meditative ‘device’ than earlier Hang, or simply, as a resonant metal sculpture, that is best played alone - in a quiet space. Where with time, and patience (and possibly persistence) the ‘player’ can learn to release the FIH’s less immediately obvious ‘inner beauty’.
However, whether this ‘free tuning’, or the FIH as a whole, is an evolutionary step in the ‘right’ direction, when compared to older generation Hanghang, is a matter of personal opinion (and taste), with the FIH having both its critics, and its supporters (personally - I wouldn't swap my first gen, for a FIH). But whichever side of the fence you stand, it is important that you’re aware of exactly what the Free Integral Hang ‘is’, and of what it has to offer, before you go writing that letter to PANArt (for multiple reasons - see below).  Because, as one joke goes (to paraphrase a Star Wars quote), "These may not be the droids that you're looking for...".

Further Reading:
Hang and Handpan Comparison - A YouTube Video
The Free Tuning of the Free Integral Hang - A discussion on HangForum

The Live-Metalart HandPan - Made in Israel

(!) This post may now be out of date - but has been left published for archive purposes.  It may still prove to be of interest, but some (or all) details may now be out of date (!)

The ‘Live-Metalart' HandPan is the creation of Japanese artist and sculpture, ‘Nobuya Yamaguchi’. Who, currently livng in Israel, is a graduate in sculpture of Tamagawa University, Tokyo, has a long history of creating all manner of everything from contemporary furniture, through to large functional stone sculptures for children's play areas. In addition to, of course, steel pan tuning.
And a recently released (at time of writing) series of YouTube videos demonstrating the Live-Metalart HandPan, performed by gifted percussionist ‘Yonatan Bar Rashi’ (and now by Nobuya himself), have caused some serious excitement within the HandPan ‘scene’.

Believed to cost around $1600, one of the most interesting features of the LIve-Metalart HandPan is the fact that the top and bottom of the HandPan are connected using a bolting mechanism, rather than being either glued, or welded, as most other HandPan are. Which, as Nobuya Yamaguchi states, allows for easier retuning of the pan.

In terms of size the Live-Metalart HandPan are on the larger side, believed to be of a similar size to the Bali Steel pan. Are not nitrided, and require occasional treatment (by the player) to prevent corrosion. And at the time of writing Nobuya’s sound-sculpture are believed to have a waiting list of around four months.

Overall, the Live-Metalart HandPan sound very pleasing to the ear, projecting deliciously deep, and dark tones. And when taking into account that the videos currently available, can be considered to be of prototypes,  It seems hopeful that in time this HandPan could become an instrument to rival the other big names in Handpan.

For more information, you can contact Nobuya Yamaguchi via his website: HERE. Or alternatively, to keep up-to-date with the latest developments, you can subscribe to Nobuya's YouTube channel: HERE.

Liron Man - The Fastest Hands in Hang (Possibly)

The owner of arguably the fastest hands in Hang music, Liron Man, born in ‘Ness Ziona, Israel’ began playing the piano at the age of four, he discovered the electric guitar at age twelve, and at eighteen, having performed widely, and having composed original music for both, branched out into such instruments as the ‘bouzouki’, and the ‘ney flute’. Drawn to diverse musical styles from ‘Heavy Metal’, through to the Gypsy music of Eastern Europe.

And it was in 2006, that Liron Man obtained his first Hang. And began to teach himself how to play. In a meeting of man and metal, that would ultimately do much to further demonstrate the true potential of the Hang, under the ‘right’ hands.

A YouTube favorite, and hypnotising live performer, Liron Man, while having been accused of playing a little too hard, by gentler playing HandPan musicians, is without-doubt, a real experience to watch perform.  An audial and visual spectacle. With hands buzzing across the surface of his Hang like an ecstatic honey bee in a bountiful flower garden. Swift and precise, combining melody and rhythm with rare flair. Pulling from the Hang complex compositions, that show that while it is an integral part of his performance, he’s not just about the speed.

At the time of writing, Liron Man doesn’t appear to have any albums available for sale, and with his tag-line being, “The only thing better than music, is live music!”, it seems that for the time being at least, Liron Man very much prefers to show off his skills in person.

So with that said, if you’re hoping to catch a Liron Man performance, the best thing to do is to follow his activities over at Facebook, which you can do: HERE. Or alternatively, for the next best thing, you can check out more of his videos, by subscribing to his YouTube channel: HERE.

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