HandPan in the Sky - Lenticular Clouds

More of a general interest offering, inspired by the amazing photograph to your left (found via Climatologia Geográfica) than anything particularly HandPan related - but as far as we're concerned, a giant HandPan shaped cloud floating in the sky, is certainly deserving of a short post here.

This gigantic HandPan in the sky is a particularly stunning example of a 'Lenticular Cloud' (or 'altocumulus lenticularis' to use their scientific name), stationary cloud structures that form in the troposphere.

The Technical Stuff (from Wikipedia): As air flows along the surface of the Earth, it encounters obstructions. These are man-made objects, such as buildings and bridges, and natural features, like hills, valleys, and mountains. All of them disrupt the flow of air into eddies. The strength of the eddies depends on the size of the object and the speed of the wind. It results in turbulence classified as ‘mechanical’ because it is formed through the “mechanical disruption of the ambient wind flow. Where stable moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the downwind side. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops to the dew point, moisture in the air may condense to form lenticular clouds. As the moist air moves back down into the trough of the wave, the cloud may evaporate back into vapor. Under certain conditions, long strings of lenticular clouds can form near the crest of each successive wave, creating a formation known as a "wave cloud." The wave systems cause large vertical air movement, enough that water vapor may condense to produce precipitation. The clouds have been mistaken for UFOs (or "visual cover" for UFOs), particularly the round "flying saucer"-type, because these clouds have a characteristic lens appearance and smooth saucer-like shape; also, because lenticular clouds generally do not form over low-lying or flat terrain, many people have never seen one and are not aware clouds with that shape can exist. Bright colors (called irisation) are sometimes seen along the edge of lenticular clouds. These clouds have also been known to form in cases where a mountain does not exist, but rather as the result of shear winds created by a front.

While few (if any) of the other lenticular cloud photographs out there on the net are as perfectly HandPan-shaped as the one featured above, there are others that are (almost) as equally stunning.  Watch the video below to see more...

Inpex, Apex, and Ding - HandPan Terminology

While “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” might have proven to be one of the greatest mental conundrums of all time - the question of which came first, the “Apex or the Inpex” is a much simpler riddle to solve - with the answer being the “Apex” (or the “Ding”, if using PANArt terminology).

The ‘Ding’ refers to the central domed note found on all PANArt Hang - and is the lowest note on the instrument - it is played by either striking the protruding dome directly, or by striking the area surrounding it.  Another name for this structure as used in a more general way is ‘Apex’ (meaning ‘the tip’, or ‘highest point’), and is a label believed to have been coined by Pantheon Steel (possibly to avoid legal problems with PANArt) in the creation of their own instruments.  

An alternative structure of this central note can be found in the form of the ‘Inpex’ (a word that appears to have no definition prior to being used in HandPan terminology - and is also believed to have been coined by Pantheon Steel), and is essentially the exact opposite of the Apex, being instead of a protrusion, a depression into the surface of the steel.

The following two videos of a pair of Saraz HandPan tuned to the same scale, with one featuring an Apex, and the other an Inpex, demonstrate the difference perfectly, between the two approaches...



What Are “Booty Taps”? - HandPan Terminology

A recent addition (at time of posting) to the world of HandPan are “Booty Taps”,  Arguably better (but less pleasingly) described as “bottom notes”, or “bottom tones”, booty taps are additional notes that are hammered into the bottom shell of the HandPan. 
The average HandPan (if there is such a thing) of traditional structure usually features around eight to ten tone-fields (notes) on the upper shell.  And while makers have found interesting ways ways to cram on more notes than is standard (such as the “grace notes” used by Pantheon Steel, or the non-standard architecture as used on the 13-note chromatic Spacedrum), the space available on the top shell is always going to prove limiting -. hence the invention of booty taps, which opens-up the unused space found on the bottom shell for the inclusion of additional notes.

At this point in time we’ve personally yet to try playing a HandPan with booty taps, and with only YouTube performances to go by, they look to be a little awkward, but presumably, with practise, you soon get used to them(?).  And with more and more makers now offering them as an option when building your HandPan, it looks like booty taps are here to stay.

Here's a video of Sylvain Paslier playing a Saraz-made Handpan featuring 8 notes on the top, and an additional 3 notes on the bottom shell....

The Moods and Emotions of Different Musical Keys

HandPan tuned to different musical keys can vary in flavour considerably.  But how do you put the differing moods and emotions conjured up by the various musical keys into words(?). The following descriptions penned by Christian Schubart, in his work, 'Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst' ('Ideas for a Aesthetics of Music'), back in 1806 - are just one of many attempts to do just that...

C majorCompletely pure. Its character is: innocence, simplicity, naïvety, children's talk.
[Video of a Spacedrum in C major: HERE]

C minor Declaration of love and at the same time the lament of unhappy love. All languishing, longing, sighing of the love-sick soul lies in this key.
[Video of a Live-Metart HandPan in C minor: HERE]

Db major - A leering key, degenerating into grief and rapture. It cannot laugh, but it can smile; it cannot howl, but it can at least grimace its crying.--Consequently only unusual characters and feelings can be brought out in this key.

D major The key of triumph, of Hallejuahs, of war-cries, of victory-rejoicing. Thus, the inviting symphonies, the marches, holiday songs and heaven-rejoicing choruses are set in this key.
[Video of a Saraz HandPan in D major: HERE]

D minor Melancholy womanliness, the spleen and humours brood.
[Video of an Innersound HandPan in D minor: HERE]

D# minor - Feelings of the anxiety of the soul's deepest distress, of brooding despair, of blackest depresssion, of the most gloomy condition of the soul. Every fear, every hesitation of the shuddering heart, breathes out of horrible D# minor. If ghosts could speak, their speech would approximate this key.

Eb major - The key of love, of devotion, of intimate conversation with God.
[Video of a Gaia HandPan in Eb major: HERE]

E major Noisy shouts of joy, laughing pleasure and not yet complete, full delight lies in E Major.
[Video of a Saraz HandPan in E major: HERE]

F major Complaisance & calm.
[Video of a Bali Steel Pan in F major: HERE]

F minor Deep depression, funereal lament, groans of misery and longing for the grave.
[Video of a Live-Metalart in F minor: HERE]

F# major - Triumph over difficulty, free sigh of relief utered when hurdles are surmounted; echo of a soul which has fiercely struggled and finally conquered lies in all uses of this key.

F# minor - A gloomy key: it tugs at passion as a dog biting a dress. Resentment and discontent are its language.
[Video of a Saraz HandPan in F# major: HERE]

G major Everything rustic, idyllic and lyrical, every calm and satisfied passion, every tender gratitude for true friendship and faithful love,--in a word every gentle and peaceful emotion of the heart is correctly expressed by this key.
[Video of a Sonobe HandPan in G major: HERE]

G minor - Discontent, uneasiness, worry about a failed scheme; bad-tempered gnashing of teeth; in a word: resentment and dislike.
[Video of a Saraz HandPan in G minor: HERE]

Ab major - Key of the grave. Death, grave, putrefaction, judgment, eternity lie in its radius.

Ab minor - Grumbler, heart squeezed until it suffocates; wailing lament, difficult struggle; in a word, the color of this key is everything struggling with difficulty.

A major This key includes declarations of innocent love, satisfaction with one's state of affairs; hope of seeing one's beloved again when parting; youthful cheerfulness and trust in God.
[Video of a Saraz HandPan in A major: HERE]

A minor - Pious womanliness and tenderness of character.
[Video of a Spacedrum in A minor: HERE]

Bb major - Cheerful love, clear conscience, hope aspiration for a better world.

Bb minor - A quaint creature, often dressed in the garment of night. It is somewhat surly and very seldom takes on a pleasant countenance. Mocking God and the world; discontented with itself and with everything; preparation for suicide sounds in this key.

B major Strongly coloured, announcing wild passions, composed from the most glaring coulors. Anger, rage, jealousy, fury, despair and every burden of the heart lies in its sphere.

B minor This is as it were the key of patience, of calm awaiting ones's fate and of submission to divine dispensation.

(!) You can find more information on the characteristics of musical keys: HERE
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