Jeremy Arndt's, 'Journeys: HandPan Solo' - A KickStarter Success Story

HandPan musician, Jeremy Arndt, recently (at time of posting) released his second album, 'Journeys: HandPan Solo', which sat pretty at the top of the BandCamp 'HandPan music charts for a good while, and still continues to rank (and  presumably also sell) well. - (you can grab yourself a copy at Amazon too).

And one of the most interesting things about Jeremy's album, other than the beautiful music itself, is the fact that the album was funded entirely (as far as we know), by a Kickstarter campaign.

If you're not aware of what Kickstarter is, it's a 'crowdfunding' platform, that essentially allows the citizens of the interweb to come together (should they consider the concept worthy) to kick in the money to bring the ideas, and dreams of those who put them forth to life.  And at time of posting, more than 5 million net citizens have clubbed together to fund over 50,000 creative projects (including Jeremy Arndt's recent release).

People who back Kickstarter projects are offered tangible rewards and special experiences in exchange for their pledges, usually relative to the amount pledged.  For example, those who pledged $25 to Jeremy's campaign were rewarded with a signed copy of the CD, advance download, and a few other small rewards.  While those with pockets deep enough to pledge $1000, were offered among numerous other benefits, a private concert at a place of their choosing.

While it's too late now to get involved in funding the production of the album being discussed, you might find a look at Jeremy's Kickstarter appeal interesting, should you be considering ways and means to either produce, or promote your own music...

You can check out the Kickstarter page: HERE - which raised over $6,500 in funding, from over 170 backers.

Other HandPan-related Kickstarter campaigns have included the successful funding of Benjamin Bogosian's Hang drum album (back in 2010).  And Tzevaot's (an American-based HandPan producing company) somewhat controversial, and ultimately cancelled attempt to crowdsource the funds for starting up their HandPan business.

Upon successful release of Journeys: HandPan Solo, Jeremy had the following to say: '...This is my second album and I have been working on the project for over 2.5 years, from when I wrote the first song. My first album included many of the instruments that I play (handpan, didgeridoo, guitar, percussion) and for this one, I wanted to strip it back to the handpan by itself and focus on "storytelling" through Handpan music. The stories are the songs written in 2.5 years of world travel through 15 countries. The songs are my emotion and feeling, as captured through the highs and lows of world travel. The album was funded via my fans, friends, family, and many members here on Kickstarter. Many thanks to everyone who contributed.' 

And should you be wondering if the $6,500 raised via Kickstarter by Jeremy went well spent - we think it was, and you can decide for yourself by grabbing a listen below...

An Interview with Dante Bucci - By Colin Foulke

We have been incredibly lucky here this week at HandPans Magazine, because HandPan musician, tutor, and all-round ambassador for these singing steel creations, ‘Colin Foulke’, was kind enough to grab us an interview with one of the original, and continually legendary Hang/HandPan performers of our times, ‘Dante Bucci’ - star of the Philly music scene, and one of the most watched HandPan performers of all time, with his YouTube videos having garnered millions of views. And additionally, Dante is also the composer of one of our own favorite HandPan compositions to date, ‘Flagelolet’ (from his recently released (at time of writing) d├ębut full album, 'Kinesthesia' - which can be purchased on iTunes: HERE, or at CD Baby: HERE).

Interview Highlights (and videos from the new album):

Colin: Dante Bucci, what was your first musical instrument?

Dante: I think my first musical instrument was a little plastic guitar, I was three years old, and I think I sat on it, and broke it...  But, it was piano.
 I started taking piano lessons in first grade, I guess that’s how my music career got started...

Colin: Can you tell me a little more about your musical background…


Dante: Well, the piano lessons, and singing.  Singing has been a major thing, since, I guess, elementary school.  And all through high-school, and college... In college I started to pick up other things, like a little guitar, and hand percussion.  Actually hand percussion was a thing that was there for a long time, but I never really recognised it, until somebody put a set of bongos in front of me - and then that sort of took off...


I got congas, and djembe, and doumbeks, and all that kind of thing.  So yeah, mostly that as I progressed into late college, when early after graduating, I decided that I kind of liked the obscure, and unconventional, such as the singing bowl, and the didgeridoo, then I sought the weirdest things I could find, like the Theremin, and the musical saw, so, that was the progression there...
Colin: How did you hear about the Hang?

Dante: The Hang was described to me, by a lovely gentleman, at the Philadelphia folk festival, in 2006.  He, and I, had been jamming in a camp ground at the folk fest - I had seen him many years prior to that, he was a regular, I had been going since 2000, and he’d been going since the 70’s - we were making some music, and at the end of the jam session he turned to me and said, “you seem like the kind of gentleman who would appreciate this instrument I just saw”, and he didn’t have one, but he described it to me, he spelt it out: “H-A-N-G” - and I went home; and I Googled it...

Colin: What year was that?

Dante:  That was 2006.
 I found Ron Kravitz, In Philadelphia, who was local, so I gave him a call.  And he said that he happened to be going over to Switzerland shortly to bring back a batch, and his waiting list was pretty much full, but I was on the extended list, in case other people couldn’t afford one, and had to bow out.  And I was lucky, when he came back, he had a pan for me.  So I went over to his place, I went to his basement where he had like thirty of these Hang lined up - and I ran around and hit the Ding on every one, and then picked the one which sounded the best...

Colin:  And what generation was that?

Dante: The first one I got was a D Minor, I believe second generation, it was not one of the officially listed scales, it was just at that time that they were playing with the D Minor, and various other notes, but pretty much all of the same tonality...

Colin: What is the name of your new album, and the inspiration behind it?

Dante: Following on from the 2008 EP, ‘Reminiscence’, the new full length album is called, ‘Kinesthesia’.  The title is a word that means ‘your sense of where your limbs are in relation to the rest of your body’...  If you’ve ever had a sobriety test, and they tell you close your eyes and touch your nose, that’s Kinesthesia right there, knowing how to find things in space just by feeling, and that’s definitely useful when I’m playing, because I sometimes play more than one at a time, and I can’t look at all places at once, so that was the inspiration there…  And it’s basically all the songs that I’ve written so far that I like, including a couple from my 2008 effort...

Colin: What HandPans will you be playing on the new album?


Colin Foulke's HandPans and
Sound Sculptures -
Intermediate to Advanced
Available for sale: HERE
Dante: The F Major, and the D Minor, are pretty much all over it.  The Kourd Atar makes an appearance on one or two songs, and the Bells Jibuk, on one song…

Colin: What is your favorite HandPan/Sound Model you’ve ever played?

Dante: I guess I would have to say my favorite is one I own, because I’m the most familiar and intimate with those… The BellArt, the Jibuk scale, is probably my favorite at the moment, because it’s allowed me to do a lot of different melodies. And it’s versatile enough that you can get a lot of different Christmas songs out of it, and I’m working on a Christmas album right now.  I’ve just found that to be the most dynamic, and versatile scale so far...

Colin: Any dream Scales, or ones you’d like to see made on a HandPan?

Dante: My Halo, the one I recently got - was exactly what I asked for.  I haven’t had a chance yet to really focus on it.  But I would say that that, having the B natural, having the F sharp, and the C sharp - it has all the notes that I’ve been coveting for a long time, and it has that smoky sound to it that I feel has a lot of potential…  Really what I would want, is a proper chromatic set-up, that I could just learn, and write everything on from now on, and not have to worry about what pans to bring to a gig… it’s gotten to a point that if I want to play my whole repertoire I have to bring and shuffle around like five pans, which is a little inconvenient…

Colin: Any singing saw on the new album?

Dante: No - I did a little singing saw on YouTube, and in the studio - and under the microscope of the studio, it was not up to par, and it felt kind of unnecessary…  I didn’t feel that it was a good fit, and I didn’t want to force it...

Colin: Any thoughts on PANArt’s new creation, the ‘Gubal’?

Dante: “The Gumball!” - I saw the video, and I think it’s fascinating - I kind of just want to spin it like a top...  I haven’t had the chance to play one in person yet, but I probably will in the next couple of weeks - It just seems like another unique feature of melodic hand percussion, focusing more on the bass and percussion, than other more melodic higher-pitched pans - and I’m excited that PANArt is continuing to develop, and create…

Colin: So, what’s next for Dante Bucci?

Dante: I’m collaborating with a singer/song-writer named,
‘Angela Sheik’, and she’s very adept at, well, everything - singing, playing multiple instruments, the Theremin, auto harp, and she’s very well known for her loop-pedal skills.  And I myself, being somebody who plays a lot of different instruments, was very attracted to that…  She is instant with the melodies and lyrics, and I’m instant with the grooves and the vocal percussion thing, so the two of us together assist each other in overcoming some of those hurdles that individually we’ve encountered - and so far we have gotten a lot of positive feedback. So you can look forward to a collaborative effort between me and Angela, and we're hoping to put together some kind of EP that should be available this coming winter…

Colin: Any final thoughts?

Dante: ‘Buy my Album!’ :D - It’s out on October, 25th.  You can pre-order it on iTunes from October 1st, it’ll be available in physical format October 22nd on CD Baby, and digital on iTunes- and October 25th is my CD release if anybody is in the Pennsylvania region...

Colin: How many tracks?
Dante: Ten tracks (and I sing on one of them!). :D

Colin: Dante Bucci, thank you!

Dante: You’re welcome!

To purchase Dante Bucci's debut full album, Kinesthesia, (or simply just to check out all things Dante), visit dantebucci.com

Or alternatively, you can connect with Dante over at Facebook: HERE, or subscribe to his YouTube channel: HERE

Buying a HandPan - Import Duty and Taxes

With (at time of writing) many HandPan fans being unable to purchase an instrument from a native maker, often, it is necessary to import your chosen HandPan from abroad. When doing so, it's always wise to at least attempt to calculate import duties and taxes prior to purchase - not just because these charges can be sizeable, but also because it helps you calculate the total ‘real’ price of any given pan, when comparing your options.

For example: a Bali Steel HandPan purchased at a cost of €974 (approx $1200) direct from the makers in Bali, imported into Austria, would accrue (unless you get lucky) an additional €232 (approx $310) in duty and taxes (3.2% import duty rate, and 20% VAT).  Bringing the total price to around €1200 ($1500).

A Symphonette HandPan bought from Dave’s Island Instruments in the States for around £765 ($1200), imported to the UK,
would accrue an additional £213 ($333) in import duty and taxes. Bringing the total price up to around £1000 ($1550) - again, with a 3.2% import duty rate, and 20% VAT.

Import duty and tax rates can vary significantly per country.  Importing the Bali Steel Handpan from the first example, into Vietnam, would incur an Import Duty of 3%, and taxes of 10%, while importing the very same Bali into Egypt would incur duties of 30%, and tax at 10%.

To figure out the duty and tax (and possible additional charges) you might face when importing a HandPan into your country, you might find the following website of use: DUTY CALCULATOR

Bass Halo HandPan - from Pantheon Steel

Officially unveiled at Hanpangea 2013, were these rather interesting ‘Bass Halo’, from Pantheon Steel.  With a single tuned note per side, in a much lower register than can be achieved on a standard Halo, these Bass HandPan are pretty revolutionary in terms of the new depths of sound they’re capable of bringing to the world of HandPan music.

To get some idea of what I’m talking about, check out the video of Kyle Cox (the Halo maker) using a number of these Bass Halo, in a rig, complete with foot pedals, to see how this kind of set-up could elevate HandPan music to a whole other level.  Or imagine the possibilities for collaborative play.

The downside of this being, that while a few of these bass Halo do seem to have found their way out into the wider HandPan community, with Pantheon Steel known to be aiming to produce somewhere between only 100-200 Halo in 2013, and with the massive demand that exists for pretty much anything that leaves their workshop, even if these 1-2 note bad-boys are quicker to produce than a standard Halo, chances of getting your hands on one, are presumably, slim.  Even if these are to be offered commercially, rather than being simply concept pieces.
However, with that said, it wasn’t so long ago (at time of writing) that getting your hands on any ‘Hang-inspired’ instrument, made for a considerable challenge.  So that while Pantheon Steel may have led the charge with regard to this form of bass HandPan, no doubt, if the demand is there, other makers will soon follow in fashion.  Either with exact copies, or with their own variations...

Alien Drum by 8Dio - Virtual ‘Hang Drum’ Instrument

If you’re into producing electronic music, Hang/HandPan, cool-looking Alien stuff, or preferably all three, you’ll most likely find ‘Alien Drum’, by 8Dio, of interest.  8Dio is the company founded by Academy Award winning, ‘Troels Folmann and Tawnia Knox’, and 8Dio’s range of high quality ‘virtual instruments’, have been featured within such Hollywood Blockbusters as: Avatar, Transformers 3, and the Dark Knight Trilogy, in addition to the music of: Massive Attack, Daftpunk, and Britney Spears.

Alien Drum, or rather Alien Drum mark 2 (‘The New Alien Drum’ - as featured in the embedded video), is a virtual ‘Hang Drum’ instrument, featuring the sounds of the PANArt Hang. Offering up a ton of samples across multiple playing techniques (palm, slap, hand brushing, etc.), all recorded at an average of 15 velocity layers, with 10 round robin repetitions per layer/note. Throw in a multitude of effects, and patches, all controlled via a pretty funky looking Alien themed user-interface, and what we have is a pretty effective (and certainly cost effective) mechanism for adding the heavenly sounds of the Hang to your compositions, without having to fork out an arm and a leg for a genuine PANArt Hang.

For more information, watch the embedded video, and/or head over to the 8Dio website HERE to make purchase.

* The Virtual Hang / Hang samples being offered for free (at time of writing) by 'Dark Arps', found HERE, may also prove of interest.

How to Make the Ultimate Pantheon Steel Halo Album / CD - For FREE

If you’ve fallen in love with the sound of the Pantheon Steel Halo, or more to the point, the many sounds of the many and varied Pantheon Steel Halo sound models, and would like the ability to be able to listen to some great Halo music at your leisure (and preferably for free), at time of writing, there is a way to do just that.

Tuned by Kyle Cox, Pantheon Steel Halo are among the most revered and sought after of HandPan.  But in addition to being a master tuner, Kyle Cox is also an incredibly talented HandPan player.

The main drawback with purchasing the average HandPan album (if you consider it to be an issue) is that the majority of players, will own at best only a small handful of these rare instruments, meaning that finding any individual album that can show off the vast number of HandPan scales, and flavours, now available, all in one place, is virtually impossible.  However, with Kyle Cox being both a highly gifted player, and a highly skilled maker, in this, he is somewhat at an advantage.  And with the majority of Halo sound models, both past, and present, having sound samples that exceed simple scale runs, uploaded on the Pantheon Steel website, we too can take advantage of Kyle’s rare position.

With literally dozens of Halo samples in MP3 format available on the Pantheon Steel website, and with the majority (if not all) being beautifully crafted compositions in their own right, each showcasing a different sound model, it is very easy to download these MP3 tracks, and craft what we like to think of; as the ‘Ultimate Pantheon Steel Halo Album/CD’.

Downloading is simple, when you click on the MP3 link next to each sound model it takes you to a page featuring a small audio player.  In order to download the sample you simply need to right click your mouse on the little audio player, choose ‘save as’ (may display ‘save video as’ or something similar), check ‘save as type’ is set to .mp3, hit ‘save’, and you're done.

Repeat the above for all, or simply for your chosen tracks, and you have now got for free, some of the best Halo music (and arguably HandPan music, period) online, to listen to as and when, and wherever you choose.  Enjoy. :)

Listen to (and download) the Halo sound model tracks: HERE
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Hang - Sound Sculpture - The Book/CD (and First Thoughts on the PANArt Gubal).

Note - This post contains nothing more than the individual thoughts, opinions, and tastes of HandPans Magazine.  Yours may well differ, and as far as we’re concerned, that’s a good thing... (* the music in the background of the attached brief unboxing video is unfortunately not from the accompanying Gubal CD, due to copyright).

So today (10/07/2013), like many others, after a week or so wait, we received the much anticipated volume (and accompanying Gubal CD), titled, ‘Hang - Sound Sculpture’.  For the purposes of this post, we’re going to treat the book and the CD as separate entities, and discuss them individually, as to our mind, each serves a very different purpose.

The Book

Like many, when we first learned of this book being offered by PANArt, we were both surprised (the PANArt domain www.hang.ch had been inactive for around ten years previous), intensely curious, and also a little put-out, both by what initially seemed like a fairly expensive price for what was advertised as a 44 page volume, and also by the fact that PANArt had decided that charging $ was the best way to announce the coming of their new creation, the ‘Gubal’, when the information, and sound samples could have been uploaded to the net for free, giving those with the means to purchase the package being offered by PANArt, and those without, the opportunity to enjoy the coming of the Gubal equally.

With this said though, and treating the CD, and the book as two separate entities, the book itself is a very nice looking volume, aesthetically pleasing, though as was already known prior to purchase, not particularly substantial, in number of pages.  However, what you do find within those pages, should prove to be interesting enough to justify the price, for anyone with more than a passing fascination with what makes PANArt tick, and their path from pan, to the Hang, and now to the Gubal.  

Hang - Sound Sculpture, is essentially what we expected it to be, a keepsake to celebrate twenty years of PANArt, with a strong focus on the Hang years, the developments that led to the creation of the Hang, and rare glimpses of how PANArt perceived the global rise of the Hang, from the inside looking out (the exact opposite of what you’ll usually find littered around the internet, including on this website).  And we’d like to hope, that this PANArt released volume will go some way towards helping those who have found PANArt’s ways confusing (including ourselves - this website was essentially started out of annoyance at PANArt, due to being unable to obtain a Hang, leading us to explore alternatives) to understand why they operate in the ways that they've chosen to.

We don’t want to give too much away concerning the actual contents of the book, but overall we very much enjoyed the read.  We’re not likely to convert to becoming what are sometimes known as ‘PANArt Purists’ any-time soon.  But there is no arguing with the fact that none of us would be here if it weren't for PANArt, and this little purple book is something of a treasure.  Those who were hoping for any solid information on the Gubal will find these pages somewhat lacking - despite the accompanying CD, for that is not really its purpose.  And there were several passages that didn't entirely ring true, with what we have either experienced personally, or have read about on-line, in particular the sentence, ‘we decided not to waste ourselves in quarrels with counterfeiters...’, when it is known that at least one lengthy legal battle took place.  And the open sharing of information by PANArt discussed in the chapter titled, ‘Resonance in the world’, appears to be more of a historical reference, with PANArt seemingly being far more guarded in recent years (we were ourselves contacted and accused of giving away Hang-making secrets in this post).  With that said though, in this instance, we can happily endure a little ‘history to the victors’, considering PANArt’s huge contribution to the art. And would strongly recommend the purchase (as mentioned above) to anybody with more than a passing interest in all things Hang, and HandPan.  And it has been stated that while the price may initially seem fairly high for such a small volume, prices in Switzerland are high in general, and the price of PANArt’s book is said to be comparable with the cost of a standard audio CD purchased there, which makes the price of CHF 39.00 (roughly forty odd dollars) seem far more reasonable for such an insightful, and well-written little gem.

How long this book will be available from PANArt, we do not know, but at the time of writing, you can purchase your copy: HERE.

The Gubal CD - First Thoughts on the Sound of the Gubal

If you don't know what the 'Gubal' is, the Gubal is a new instrument being offered by PANArt from 2013 (more info).

The CD that accompanies the book is an eight track offering, made up primarily of solo Gubal performances, but also containing several duets, both double Gubal, and with instruments such as a soprano saxophone.

When I first stumbled across the design patents for the Gubal, and got a first look at what presumably the Gubal looks like (at the time of writing we still can’t be totally sure), I wondered whether the instrument was different enough, structurally, from the Hang, other than a bit protruding here, and a bit added there, to be classed as a completely new and separate instrument, rather than simply Hang Mk.5.  Listening to the sounds of the Gubal though, it’s clear that this is a very different beast.  Within the book, the Gubal is described as having its roots in the ‘groove’, and the closing chapter is titled, ‘Lets Dance!’ Both of which seem to be very fitting.

For a while now PANArt have appeared to be moving more and more away from the concept of an ‘instrument’, with the Hang.  Preferring for the Hang to be considered as a ‘sound sculpture’, and in many ways a ‘meditative device’, and a mirror to the soul of the player.  The Gubal, on the other hand, to our mind, appears to be something of a U-Turn in this regard, with its dominating rhythmic flow, and strong Ghatam-like percussive qualities. And if we’re understanding correctly, a return to more conventional tuning, to make the Gubal compatible with other instruments. Could be seen as a small step back towards where earlier generation of Hanghang left off (prior to the Free Integral Hang).

The sound of the Gubal is interesting, and even on the solo tracks it does sound like there is a lot going on, in the sense that it sounds like there is more than a single instrument being played at once.  It’s a pretty sexy, exotic sounding instrument.  However, prior to falling in love with the Hang, and HandPan in turn, I was not personally, particularly ‘into’ percussion.  And my early thoughts on the sound (for what they’re worth) is that the Gubal is not going to be an instrument that I would personally be interested in obtaining.  The choir of Angels has been replaced with something different, not necessarily worse, or better, just different. And I suspect that Hang/HandPan players with a percussive background, will be drooling over the idea of getting their hands on one of these Hang/Ghatam hybrids.  And credit where credit is due, you have to give full props to PANArt for continuing to push their art, in new and exciting ways.  And as always, we can’t wait to hear more, knowing that, as in many ways it was with the Hang, the sound of the Gubal may only reveal its true beauty, once they have found their way into the hands of players who explore, master, and push the boundaries of what the Gubal is capable of, beyond even PANArt's own vision for the instrument...

Once again, the book/CD can be purchased: HERE, if you'd like the opportunity to get an early listen to the PANArt Gubal yourself, to make up your own mind.

[Update] You can now watch a video of the PANArt Gubal being played by its makers themselves: HERE

Sungeun Jin - A Stadium HandPan K-POP Extravaganza

If any HandPan player could stand up proudly and say, in a Frank Sinatra esque fashion, “I did it my way!”, ‘ Sungeun Jin’, could certainly count himself among them.  As the Korean HandPan virtuoso who, whether wittingly, or unwittingly, has to date, very much gone against the grain in terms of what 95% of the players around at time of writing are putting out there...

Seemingly, you’re not likely to find a babbling brook, or a picturesque forest glade in sight at a Sungeun Jin performance, where instead, you are far more likely to find yourself dazzled with laser beam light shows, and wowed with a HandPan setup almost able to rival the legendary drum kits of Terry Bozzio, and the big kit drummers of his like.  And for some, this move from spiritual, and serene, to epic stadium rock HandPan extravaganza, could be seen as quite refreshing.

Often found performing on a set-up of four-plus HandPan (primarily BEllArt BElls at time of writing) Sungeun appears to be making some fairly big waves in his home country of Korea, where he has been seen performing live on HandPan at the likes of Samsung promotional events, and other swag-looking occasions. And Sungeun Jin has stated that ‘I guess, I am the first Handpan player, and I really want people who lived in Korea to know how beautiful the sound of HandPan...’

Notable for his covers, Sungeun counts among his repertoire the theme song from Mission Impossible, as well as Yesterday, by the Beatles.  And in many ways, the Sungeun Jin show as a whole has a sort of K-POP flavour running throughout it.  And with that said, Sungeun can certainly play, performing on four pans simultaneously, and fluidly, something that is no easy feat for any of the world's most talented, and experienced of players. And Sungeun can truly make them sing.
Here at HPM, we like the guy, and always look forward to catching his latest videos over at YouTube.  You can check out his channel: HERE.  Or alternatively, Sungeun has set up a Korean Hang/HandPan blog (and growing community - as far as we can tell), which you can check out: HERE

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