The Coming of the Oval - "The First Digital HandPan"

While the Oval is not the first attempt at creating an electronic version of the HandPan that we’ve come across (see Sonic Fingers, from 2011, for example).  The Oval appears to have a level of momentum, support, exposure, expertise, and demand for the product, that earlier attempts failed to reach.  And with long-time Hang man, Ravid Goldschmidt, throwing his weight in with the project, and with early demo videos showing promise, the Oval is something, that everybody within the world of HandPan, is currently keeping one eye on.

Presented for funding to the public over at the Kickstarter platform, as being: electronic musical instrument that connects to an App for smartphone or tablet and it can also be used as a controller connected to a computer. Inspired by the HandPans family of acoustic instruments, the Oval provides total freedom to create sounds and it’s a tool geared towards music learning and performing. It allows you to both change and create sounds and it is also a tool for sharing your compositions with an on-line community of users.’

The Oval funding campaign reached its initial target within just two days, and went on to reach a level of investment of over 300% of its initial goal - with 680 backers pledging a total of €348,018 between them, to fund the project.  With each person pre-purchasing an Oval, paying at least €349.  

Promotion of the Oval as being the “first digital Handpan”, has caused some controversy within HandPan circles.  With debate ensuing as to whether the Oval should in fact be considered to be a “digital HandPan”, or merely a HandPan-shaped MIDI controller.

The sound of an acoustic Hang envelopes the player in a sonic-sound-bath.  It whispers, and growls, sings sweetly, clinks, thuds, blares, and even screams in pain (if played too heavily), depending upon how it is touched. And it is these nuances, that we imagine, will be hard to replicate fully, in digital form.   The steel of a well-made HandPan responds to the hand in a very organic way - that electronic sensors, may, or may not, be able to reproduce...

The appeal of a device like the Oval, over an acoustic HandPan, however, lies primarily in its versatility, the ability to play any HandPan scale on the one instrument, or utilise any sampled instrument for that matter - using the HandPan’s intuitive note layout.  This combined with the ability to easily record, and amplify, the Oval (potentially) addresses most of an acoustic HandPan’s main weaknesses.

The first Oval to reach their backers are estimated for delivery in March, 2016.  So if you’ve stumbled across this post after that date, go check out YouTube and hopefully you’ll find some user-generated demonstrations, or go find some forum chatter.  If however, as with ourselves (at time of posting), that date has yet to pass - you’ll have to make do with checking in on the Oval Facebook page from time-to-time (or even better - subscribing to it), to catch up with the latest.

Already played an Oval, and want to let us know your thoughts? Join the forum: HERE.
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