How to Turn a Dustbin Lid into a Hang Drum

Along with “Woks”, and “Weber Grills”, "Dustbin (trash can) lids" are another of the things that people often associate the appearance of Handpan with.  So the concept of turning an actual dustbin lid into a “Hang Drum”, does have an interesting kind of irony to it.

And while as with such things as the iPad Hang, and Handpan alternatives made from PVC tubing, we share the following more for the novelty of it, rather than as a serious alternative to a real hand-tuned steel instrument - this "Trash-Can-Hang", made using a technology named “Mogees”, is still very cool - and is at least moderately more effective, than we were expecting it to be…

Mogees is a technology that combines a vibration sensor, with a real-time gesture-recognition app. And according to the YouTube video description, the following is what is going on: A Mogees sensor attached to the lid is plugged into an iPhone running the new Mogees app. An audio cable then connects the phone to a speaker.  Mogees features real-time gesture recognition. Here 5 parts of the lid are associated to 5 different notes. With the Muon sound engine in the app, the raw audio from the sensor is used as the input to a physical modelling re-synthesiser, meaning all of the nuances of the performance can be heard.’  And with “play your world”, being the Mogees slogan, the device can essentially turn anything at all, into a musical instrument.

Actively seeking funding over at Kickstarter (at time of posting), the Mogees campaign has far exceeded its initial goal of £20,000 - raising more than £80,000 in investment, with six days still left to go.  And to get more information (and/or to sign up as a backer - if you hit this page within the next six days), you can visit the Mogees Kickstarter campaign: HERE.

Alternatively, you can visit the Mogees website: HERE, for more information.

The Hang Gudu V’s The Gudu Hang

Gudu Hang

The “Gudu Hang” were a type of Hang made by PANArt between 2004 - 2007.  And what made them a little different from the standard Hang build, was the inclusion of a second Gu-like opening built into the side of the bottom shell, known as the “Du”.

The Du could be covered, or uncovered, using a flexible magnetic disc, but when open, could be utilized to create additional Udu-like effects.

Both first-generation, and second-generation Gudu Hang were made.  And like the PANArt-made “Dum”, (a tool usually associated specifically with Gudu Hang), the Du provided an interesting, yet subtle variation; to the standard Hangs sound.

And while the following is a little painful, as Hang demonstrations go, it does give you a good look at a Gudu Hang...

And you can hear one played in a more pleasing manner, by Hang-legend, Manu Delago, below…

Hang Gudu

Previously named the “Pang Gudu” (which, in our opinion, seemed more apt - and a little less confusing), the “Hang Gudu” is one of PANArt’s 2015-unveiled next generation Pang-made instruments.  

However, despite its name, as the Gubal moved away from the standard Hang architecture, but kept the circle of tuned tone-fields, in the case of the Hang Gudu, other than being made from the same material, there seems to be very little of the Hang left to it, other than its approximate shape, and a similar appearance.  With the Hang Gudu, (in our opinion) being more Udu, than Hang.

Interestingly though, the Hang Gudu, is the first (to our knowledge) PANArt-made instrument to ever be made available for online purchase, directly from the makers website.  Which considering the chaos, and confusion, PANArt’s “begging letter” type system of the past caused for many of those seeking a Hang, is refreshing.  

And while, ultimately, the Hang Gudu is only featured on this website (being primarily a Handpan dedicated website), because of the PANArt connection -  as part of a Pang orchestra (which is what PANArt appear to be moving towards at time of writing), the Hang Gudu; could be worthy of further exploration…

Get more information on the Hang Gudu over at PANArt's Website: HERE.

The Gu Booster - From Dave’s Island Instruments

The PANArt-made "Dum"
Back in 2012 we speculated as to whether in the future we’d see other makers take-up, and play around with, the Handpan accessory first introduced by PANArt “back in the day”, in the form of the “Dum”.  And while recently browsing the Dave’s Island Instruments website, we can see that at least one maker, is now doing just that...

The PANArt Dum is a small flared-tube made of turned pear-wood, that is designed to lower the Helmholtz resonance of the Hang a fifth, once inserted into the Gu.  It is believed that there were only ever about 200 of these things made, so they’re pretty rare.  But now, DII customers at least (we’re not sure if these fit any other make of Handpan), are free to experiment with Helmholtz manipulation once more - thanks to the “Gu Booster”.

The DII Gu Booster
The Gu Booster is a Dum-like plastic-molded insert that fits into the Gu-hole, designed to boost the bass Helmholtz frequency of DII’s Handpans.  Cut to a specific length to achieve a specific pitch, Gu Boosters are available (at time of posting) in:  C3, D3, and Eb3.  And according to the DII website, they can also help to protect the bottom of your Handpan from scratches, etc. (which makes sense).

We’ve yet to try out a Gu Booster ourselves, but we did get to briefly try out a PANArt Dum a few years back.  And while the effect was subtle, it was interesting enough.  And with the Gu Booster being priced at a seemingly reasonable $15 at time of posting, if you’re a DII owner, this might be something that you’ll be interested in having a play with.  

Find the Gu Booster over at the Dave’s Island Instrument website: HERE

The Zoom Q8 Audio/Video Recorder - HandPan Sound Samples

The “Zoom” range of audio/video recorders have always been spoken of highly, among HandPan musicians - so it was interesting to stumble across a couple of videos put up by HardCase Technologies man, Alessio - demoing the 2015-model, Zoom Q8 - paired up with a Swiss-made Echo Sound Sculpture, and an Italian-made Meraki Instrument.

Touted as being: ‘the world's first high-def camera with interchangeable microphones—the complete solution for anyone who want to augment their video creations with great sound.’, the Q8 has generally received great reviews over at Amazon (though a few small issues with the device are also highlighted) - which you may wish to read: HERE.

Here are some of the Zoom Q8’s main features:

  • Support for five HD video modes, up to 2304 x 1296 pixels (3M HD), as well as two WVGA modes
  • Compatible with all Zoom microphone capsules (sold separately)
  • Up to four tracks of simultaneous audio recording
  • Supplied detachable stereo X/Y microphone (XYQ-8)
  • Full-color rotating LCD touchscreen

And, most importantly, you can hear below how it performs, capturing footage of a couple of choice HandPan…

Echo Sound Sculpture

Find the Zoom Q8 for sale over at Amazon: HERE

The Aura Maelstrom - A 15-Note HandPan

A Gu-like looking Maelstrom
Searching for the definition of “Maelstrom” revealed two potential meanings: “a powerful whirlpool in the sea or a river”, or “a situation or state of confused movement or violent turmoil”.  Which makes you wonder which of these the Aura guys had in mind, when they named their recently-revealed 15-note HandPan behemoth?  And listening to, and imagining playing, it, suggests that it could have been either, or both…

Sonically; the Aura Maelstrom does indeed sound to be a “powerful whirlpool” (though you may, or may not, want to take it into the sea, or river with you - a subject of some controversy at time of posting, over at Facebook),  And with 15 notes, including “booty taps”, and “grace notes” (the little “cyclops” notes that sit in-between), coming from a standard (if there is such a thing) nine-tone layout, I can imagine that there would be moments of confused movement, and perhaps even some violent turmoil, when first trying to get a handle on playing this beautiful beast.  

But when your hear it played with expertise, all of those extra "bells and whistles", do sound to go a long way. As can be heard in the following video performance by HandPan artist, Jacob Cole, performing on the Maelstrom, which has been, to date, the most popular video of 2015, over at HandPan Tube - with both instrument, and musician, being equally deserving of that shared recognition…

The notes of the Maelstrom sound-model are: 

(D), [F, G], A, [Bb], C, D, E, F, G, A, C, D, F, G

And you can also hear it in action below, being played by Aura's own Jon Antzoulis, accompanied by Mike Antzoulis, on Bawu...

Find more information on Aura, and their instruments: HERE

Italy - A Hub of HandPan Making Activity

Image result for italy flag circle
If you dwell within Italy, and find yourself searching for a HandPan (be it your first, or otherwise), geographically, and demographically, you can count yourself among the best placed of HandPan hunters there are.  Because Italy has fast become a true hub; of HandPan-making activity.  

At time of posting, other than the U.S. perhaps - no country offers more choice, for the HandPan-hungry seeker.

Why Italy has become such a plentiful mecca of HandPan production is unknown.  Does the country harbour a greater interest in all things HandPan than other lands, in general?  Or is there something going on there, in terms of a greater sharing of information, and teaching of skills, that has led to more makers?

We’ve no idea.  We could probably ask - but we enjoy the mystery of it all. :)

Regardless - at time of posting, few country's wares feature more frequently on our main list of HandPan makers, than those of Italy.  So that while the first Italian-made HandPan, the MDR Disco Armonico, sat lonely for a while - it has now surrounded itself with one of the largest country-specific lists of HandPan makers out there…

* MDR Disco Armonico

* Panormus Drum

* Vision Instruments

* db HandPan

* Blesspan

* Shakti Pan

* Meraki Instruments

* Soul Pan

And no doubt this list will very soon (if it isn't already) become outdated, as even more Italian HandPan makers step-forward, and swell their numbers.

As a point of note, the moniker, "Disco Armonico" (meaning "Harmonic Disc), was used in the sale of PANArt Hang within Italy, in the early years when Hang could be purchased through a small network of retailers. And at time of posting, the term still seems to cultivate some use among Italians, in place of the words "Hang", or "HandPan".

eBay Officially Recognises the HandPan - October 2015

has long been one of the most used (if not always the most popular) marketplaces, for buying and selling HandPan - providing a handy (if often higher priced) platform for purchasing a pan, for those unable to travel to collect in-person from a maker, those too impatient to wait on a list, the unwitting, those who prefer the security of having an established middle-man, and those in search of a particular “Holy Grail”. 

And in October, 2015 (scheduled for October, 12th), officially recognises the HandPan instrument-type, by awarding it its own sales category.  Category number: 181236, a new subcategory of World Drums.  

What does this mean for the HandPan, other than that it might possibly make it just a little easier to buy or sell them in the future over on the auction platform?  As the years tick by, it becomes increasingly less valid to refer to these instruments as a “new invention”.  And with an e-commerce platform the size of awarding the HandPan its own category, perhaps the HandPan is no longer (for good, or for bad) the fringe-curiosity, that it was, what seems like just a few short years ago...

PANGVengers PANGSsemble - The PANArt Family Pang Jam

While PANArt themselves (at time of writing) move increasingly away from the HandPan form of musical instruments, that their creation, the Hang, gave birth to.  Their activities, as the inventors of this instrument type, will always be of interest to the HandPan community.  And this week has seen some interesting new videos uploaded to PANArt's YouTube channel, not least of which, is the video titled, ‘PANArt Pangensemble: Hands on Pang’ - a PANArt family-style jam, that features some of their latest creations made from their patented Pang material - with lyrics, that have already attracted controversy...

The video itself shows off some of PANArt’s more recent creations, the percussive, Urgu, and the stringed: Pang Sei, Pang Sui, and Pang Sai.  With Felix Rohner on vocals.  

And while in general, we’ve been less captivated by PANArt’s newer inventions, than we were, and indeed are, the Hang.  It’s still very much an enjoyable performance.  With the instruments sounding great - and being played with skill...

The Hang itself of course is absent, as it usually is in recent times, publicly strengthening PANArt’s move away from the instrument that brought them to the attention of a worldwide audience.  And fitting - in that while much of the rest of the world appears to disagree - the PANArt crew, and seemingly; Felix in particular, do not believe the Hang (and with it the entire HandPan sub-culture) to be PANArt's greatest contribution to the world. But that Pang, the material from which the Hang was born, is.

Some have made note of PANArt’s slightly-mournful looking demeanour - and while it’s true that the performance is not particularly upbeat, as somebody who has as yet, been equally unable to master the Daniel Waples-like grin while performing, and looks equally pained (particularly when being filmed) - I try not to draw too much from that - other than perhaps, that not everybody feels truly comfortable putting themselves out there for, and under, the inevitable scrutiny of the internet.  Analysis, and scrutiny that goes double, when you happen to be PANArt - considering the somewhat uneasy relationship they have, with a sizeable percentage of those who adore their instruments (and the Hang in particular).  

It is the lyrics of the piece however, that have caused most discussion - being seemingly rich in the kind of dogma, and condemnations, of which PANArt are often accused.  Some of which, may be coincidental (such as Felix’s use of the word ‘Halo’), or due to poor translation, yet other lyrics are impossible to confuse.  Such as:Hands on Pang is more than an electronic sample of an app”, and “More than clicks on a plastic handpan shell”, which appear to be referring to devices such as the Oval (or equally, instruments that PANArt consider to be made from inferior materials to their own Pang).  And the lines “More than a performance on YouTube, More than a kick for people in the tube…” - which (despite the PANArt crew themselves now fairly frequently uploading videos to their own channel), seem to reflect their somewhat known disapproval of the YouTube performers, and street artists - that use their instruments, to 'obtain kudos for themselves' (ego).

Regardless though, the performance, and the instruments are enjoyable. And with the Hang-makers having had little in the way of an online presence until the last year or so, any genuine insight into who, and what, they are; is interesting - shrouded in mystery as they have been.

And should PANArt's latest video offering, lead to some kind of 'Hip-Hop style' tit-for-tat musical showdown, with other makers who have taken offence - should the Pantheon Steel guys grab a couple of Halo, wheel out their Grandma to accompany them on the spoons, and pen a retaliatory musical diatribe in response - all the better. :)

Because those who understand PANArt's native dialect, often suggest that much of the humour is lost in translation - when converted to English. And in this instance, in this case, we're going to choose to believe (despite some doubts), that there's more of that, to this, than meets the eye...

Catch the latest videos from PANArt over at their YouTube channel: HERE
© HandPans Magazine