HandPan History - Some of the Earliest HandPan Ever Made, and Sold

Borrowed from an interesting thread over at the Facebook group, The HandPan Community, discussing the earliest Handpan - are a small-handful of videos, of some of the very first “Hang drum alternatives” to ever be produced. 

Created in the wake of the huge demand for the PANArt Hang, which itself had been around since 2000. The first Handpan to be offered up for sale (even before the "Handpan" name had firmly stuck) were the Caisa, in 2007, the BEllArt, in 2009, and the Halo, in 2009.  

And the following three videos are a small slice of Handpan history - being some of the first among a list of newer Hang-inspired makers, that now numbers in the hundreds.  

A Very Early Caisa

The following video dated from 2007, features the Caisa maker, Bill Brown, showing off a very early Caisa, and what could quite possibly be the very first Hang-inspired creation ever made (though with that said, the Hank Drum, has also been around since 2007)...

The First BEllArt Ever Sold

According to Handpan musician, Joan Jibuk Aeolian, the following video is of the first BEllArt Handpan sold by the Spanish maker, Luis Martin Eguiguren Garrido, back in 2009...

And the First Halo Sold

While according to Handpan musician, Jeremy Arndt, this is a video of the first Halo, to ever leave Pantheon Steel's workshop, into the hands of a customer - also, in 2009...

While initially it seemed that PANArt welcomed others to reproduce their creation, making most of their research available online for all to read.  Later, it is known that many of the early makers faced legal challenges from PANArt, culminating in a legal battle between PANArt, and BEllArt.  A battle, that to our knowledge, PANArt ultimately lost - at least partially clearing the path for future makers. Though since then, PANArt have been granted patents to cover certain aspects of the Hang-making process.


Pablo’s Sword - Narcos, and the HandPan

If like us, you’ve been enjoying the 2015~ NetFlix show, Narcos.  You can’t have failed to hear the familiar sounds of the Handpan, time-and-time-again, drifting in and out of the sound-scape - as if in warning of a coming storm...

Narcos is an American crime thriller television series created and produced by Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, and Doug Miro. Season 1, comprising 10 episodes, originally aired on August 28, 2015, as a Netflix exclusive.  Set and filmed in Colombia, season 1 tells the true story of notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who became a billionaire through the production and distribution of cocaine, while also focusing on Escobar's interactions with drug lords, DEA agents, and various opposition entities.  And while we definitely heard the sounds of the Hang, and/or Handpan within the soundtrack in numerous places, the most frequently-played track on which it appears is the composition titled, “Pablo’s Sword”, which you can hear in the video below...

The soundtrack to Narcos was created by Rio de Janeiro born and raised composer, Pedro Bromfman.  Who talks about how he set about creating the show's soundtrack in an interview over at hollywoodreporter.com

‘The idea was to use a lot of Colombian instruments. I play some of them because I grew up in South America, but others were new to me. It wasn’t about necessarily playing Colombian rhythms at all times but to create that flavor.

There are some other instruments that are completely foreign to Colombia. There’s one called the Hang from Switzerland, which has this deep, haunting, metallic sound that I use in a few scenes.  

We brought all of those instruments into the studio, and I was exploring and playing with them, then I recorded them, and then we would bring them into the computer so I could make ambiances out of those organic sounds. They aren’t synthesized and I think the audience can somehow feel that…’.


Buying a HandPan - And the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment

Checking the completed listings section over at eBay today, revealed some purchases, that could arguably be thought of, as having been poorly considered.  eBay has always been a bit of a minefield, for those looking to purchase a Handpan, particularly for those newer to this world of singing steel. Though unlike others, we’re not going to shout at you in capital letters to, “STAY AWAY FROM EBAY!!!!” - partially, because there have always been some interesting offerings sold via the platform, once you have learned enough to side-step the worst of its wares (something that should become increasingly true, as the market evolves, and grows - with the influx of newer makers).  But also partially, because here at HPM, if we’re going to patronize your intelligence, we’re going to go the whole-hog, by comparing you to a small child, who can’t be trusted alone in a room for fifteen minutes, without giving in to the temptation, of stuffing your face with marshmallow.

The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment

The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment (not to be confused with The Stanford Prison Experiment), was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University. In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards (i.e., a larger later reward) if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned...

In days gone by (and perhaps still in some quarters), waiting for a period as long as five years or so, to obtain an instrument, was trumpeted by some Handpan seekers almost as a badge of honour - which is not something that we ever bought into here at HPM, unless out of necessity. But that said, a little patience can certainly go a long way, when searching for the right Handpan - especially when you consider, that right now, at this very moment, you find yourself within something very much comparable to an active live online "Stanford Handpan Experiment" - being conducted as you read - upon you.  

We feature a list of Handpan makers that now numbers over a hundred.  And then we also have links to auctions, and sales, that are more instantly gratifying. Neither path is necessarily the "correct" one, after all, the little girl munching away on her marshmallow in the video above, before the lady had ever left the room, appeared to very much enjoy it...

YouTube is your friend - there are now a huge number of Handpan videos over on the platform, and the more of them you listen to, from as many makers as possible - the more you'll be able to hear the differences, and nuances, of each.  If you are unable to tell the difference between THIS, and say, THIS, you are probably not yet ready, to be considering your first Handpan purchase.

If you feel like you need some guidance, there are now a whole bunch of Facebook groups where you'll most likely find others willing to offer advice. And if Facebook isn't your thing, there are other online forums too, outside of it. Including ours.

So, to end this post, we're going to offer you two contrasting views, the first: "Good things come to those who wait" - a common, and valuable English phrase extolling the virtue of patience.   And then, the considerably polar: "The trouble is, you think you have time", from Jack Kornfields, Buddha's Little Instruction Book. Because if there is one thing that is true of all things in life, it is that its's certainly possible; to wait too long.


Joan Jibuk Aeolian - And the Return of the Hoodie

If you are a little newer to the world of Handpan, you may not be aware, that a few years back, the “Hoodie”, gained some ground, towards becoming an integral part of the Handpan players "uniform".

While here in the UK, in the early to mid, 00’s, stories of “Hoodie Gangs”, made up of reportedly “Feral-like” inner-city youths, running around causing all-manner of mischief, became popular in the tabloids. Just a few short years later, it seemed as if the whole world, and their Grandma, had taken to the “Thug-Life”, with the Hoodie entering mainstream fashion in a huge way. Culminating for us in the summer of 2012, when Her Majesty, the Queen of England herself, was photographed while driving her Range-Rover, looking proper-Gangster, with her face partially shrouded under the hoodie she was spotted wearing at the time.

The Hoodie, and the Handpan

Love for the Hoodie, within the Handpan world, was sparked initially, primarily, by an early Hang performance featuring, Davide Swarupe, one of the early pioneers of Hang/Handpan music.  A performance of which the majority seemed to agree, that not only did Davide play awesomely, but that he also looked kind of awesome too, in his black hoodie - like some kind of mystical-space-Jedi-warlock…

When it comes to the hoodie, and Handpan players though, it's not all about the aesthetics of the garment.  As can be seen in this nine-page thread from over at Handpan.org, that dissects the role of the hoodie, and its importance to the Handpan musician, and street performers in particular, in enjoyable detail.

In recent days though, the hoodie has become a rarer sight, among the many Handpan videos we watch over at YouTube daily.  So we were secretly pleased earlier this week, to stumble upon the following offering from Joan Jibuk Aeolian, the half of Anuah with a Y-chromosome - with which we're excited to welcome back, like an old friend, the hoodie - in spectacular fashion...


Dr. Ellie Mannette, and the HandPan

Dr. Ellie Mannette Working on a Steelpan.
Source: www.mannetteinstruments.com
In the early days of the Hang, we occasionally got a sense that there was a slight air of disappointment coming from the home of the original Swiss-makers, PANArt - that their new hand-played singing-steel creation, hadn’t caused a bigger stir when unveiled before the Steelpan community, from which PANArt themselves had sprung. While here at HPM we tend to think of Felix Rohner only in relation to the Hang - Felix was hugely important to the Swiss Steelpan scene, long before the Hang had ever been imagined.

Despite receiving the Bavarian State Award for special technical achievement at the International Trade Fair held in Munich, in the year 2000.  When presented before scientists, tuners, and journalists, at the International Conference on the Science and
Felix Rohner working on a Hang
Source: http://www.frsw.de/
Technology of the Steelpan (ICSTS), held in Trinidad, in the same year - all that could be agreed upon was that the Hang, was something “new”, which would surely “make its own way”.

In an interview with ask.audio, Steelpan tuner of over twenty years, and current Handpan maker, Dave Beery (of Dave’s Island Instruments) explains:

‘...a teacher who purchased instruments from me said, ‘Dave, I saw this new instrument, it’s called a Hang, you’ve got to make them, you’ll be a millionaire!’  I totally dismissed it about 8 years ago and didn’t think about for a while until other people started to mention how cool it was. Other Steel Drum makers didn’t see the appeal because it only had 8 or so notes on it and we are used to tuning Steel Drums with 27 notes on it. We saw it as a limited instrument and didn’t understand what it was all about.  So, finally, with enough persistence from friends who told me to just make one and try it, I relented. As soon as I made one and put it in my lap, I thought ‘Ok, I get it, this is fun!’  Ever since then I’ve become an advocate for the instrument and have enjoyed making them.’

And while the Hang may not have caused the fireworks Felix, and Sabina might have been hoping for, initially, within the community of tuners, and enthusiasts that surrounded the traditional Steelpan - there was a brand new community waiting to be born, that would greedily claim the instrument as its own.  A community for a new generation, that would use the tools of its time, to spread love for this new invention, in its own way - with early Hang YouTube videos notching up millions of views, spread far-and-wide via Social media, and the like.  With websites, and online forums appearing, to further facilitate discussion, and shared passion.

Dr. Ellie Mannette and the HandPan

If Sabina and Felix, are the Hang's Mother, and Father - Ellie Mannette, by default, is the Grandfather of the entire Handpan genus. If you don't know who Ellie Mannette is - he is the man acknowledged as being the Father of the modern Steelpan instrument (and is a man who can make Handpan players publicly weep). Essentially, no Ellie Mannette, no Hang, and no Hang, no Handpan. Ellie Mannette is a man who dreamed something new into existence, and then (much like PANArt would later do themselves) with his heart, mind, hands, and determination, gave it form...

And as such, we've often wondered as to his thoughts, regarding this new type of off-shoot, that his own work has inarguably directly led to.  Ellie Mannette has shared publicly that part of his dream is for others to move forward, with what he has started - but when it comes to Handpan, and the new and burgeoning community that now surrounds it, does the man-at-the-top, give this new development the thumbs up?

Unfortunately, in lieu of any response thus far to our e-mail enquiring - at time of posting, we can only speculate.  We find it of note, that regardless of Dr Ellie Mannette's personal thoughts as to the Handpan, numerous next-generation steelpan tuners have embraced the steel-UFO. Including at least one of the good Doctor's former apprentices, Darren Dyke, who studied under Ellie Mannette to learn the craft of tuning, and who now operates as the European-arm of US makers, Pantheon Steel.

But as to Ellie Mannette's thoughts, well, It's been known for a while now that Ellie has been working with US Handpan makers, TerraTonz, offering help, and guidance.  And a few years back, a photograph emerged on their website showing a concentrating Ellie Mannette, taking his magickal hammers, to one of their TerraPan instruments.  And you can see that photo: HERE. What are his thoughts as he tunes the Steelpans younger sibling?  As great art is supposed to speak to each individual on a very personal level, all we can do is offer you that photo, to take from what you will.  While from THIS PHOTO, of Ellie Mannette, involved in a singing-steel jam, with Handpan in attendance - we're going to choose to believe, albeit in a somewhat unofficial, and unverified manner, that Dr Ellie Mannette, has very much welcomed the Handpan; into the wider pan-family, that he will always head; as patriarch.  

Mannette Musical Instruments: http://www.mannetteinstruments.com/

* The Handpan, and Steelpan, singing side-by-side.  Performance by Nobuya Yamaguchi, and Yonatan Bar.


Daniel Waples Meets Lyrically Challenged (HandPan and Hip-Hop)

While it’s been a little bit quiet for us on the Daniel Waples front in recent days, we were delighted to wake this morning, to a breakfast of pure gold - served up by Daniel Waples, and Lyrically Challenged.

We love hearing the Handpan crossing into new genres here at HPM - And the following performance from Daniel, and Lyrically Challenged, an almost So Solid Crew like outfit (we hope that’s not insulting to them), is a bona-fide genre-buster.  Pairing the Handpans heavenly sounds, with those of inner-city urban Hip-Hop...

Many of our readers will be familiar with Daniel Waples, one of the original pioneers of Hang/Handpan music, with nearly 130,000 followers to his name over at Facebook (at time of posting), and millions of views, to his YouTube videos.  

Lyrically Challenged however, you may be less familiar with, so here's their introduction from over at YouTube: 'LC Collective are 3 female rappers Shay D, Sirena Reynolds and MC Angel with Singer Emma Prior and DJ Shorty. Solo artists who have come together from Lyrically Challenged the event representing 'Love and growth through hip-hop'. From hip-hop to depstep, conscious, deep and provocative this group of artists are setting stages, studios and mics n decks alive with passionate real and raw energy.'. - You can visit their channel: HERE.

Growing up in the days of Cypress Hill's Black Sunday, and the Wu-Tang Clan's 36 Chambers, we enjoy a bit of Hip-Hop. And while the Handpan is traditionally more babbling brooks, and blessings of love and light, than spitting lyrics in graffiti-painted-concrete-blocks - this track really works for us. The girls and guys of Lyrically Challenged demonstrate some nice flow, the beat-boxer has skills, and Daniel Waples is on top-form. Placing Lyrically Challenged Cypher, alongside the likes of Zara McFarlane's, Open Heart, among our favourite Hang / Handpan crossover tracks, thus far.


The LUG LOC - A HandPan Tracking Device

In these days where GPS, and tracking technology, has found all manner of modern applications, from tracking stolen cars, through to the movements of wayward children.  We knew we couldn't be the only ones who have given thought to just how handy, a device for tracking Handpan in transit, would be.  Particularly for our globetrotting brethren.

Yet as is increasingly often the case these days, while we have given the idea only passing thought - Hardcase Technologies man, Alessio, has already given shape to the idea, in the form of the LUG LOC.  A device that uses GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) technology, to grant users the ability to trace their luggage, anywhere in the world.

To avoid any confusion, Alessio is not the inventor of the LUG LOC, but as the man behind some of the most highly regarded Handpan travel solutions on the market, he’s certainly well-positioned, to bring the devices existence to the attention of travelling Handpan musicians, and to supply it, through the network of makers who already stock HTC’s protective cases.

As with any other form of luggage, or belonging - reports of pans being lost by airline companies, or having been stolen, are frequent enough to cause concern.  While stories of newly purchased Handpan, lost or misplaced, by mail couriers, on route to their new owners, highlight another use for a device like the LUG LOC.  

Contrary to the video above (which is more about tripods, than Handpan - though entertaining regardless) the LUG LOC has a battery-life of 15 days, not hours.  And the LUG LOC can be purchased via the Hardcase Technologies website: HERE - where it will no doubt make a tempting addition, to anybody already purchasing a case, etc. from HTC.  Alternatively, LUG LOC can also be purchased from online retailers like Amazon, should that prove to be more convenient.  And you can find more info over at the official LUG LOC website: HERE.


HandPan Music and Intuitive Painting

Inspired by a video we stumbled across over at YouTube recently, with this post, we’ll be taking a brief look, at the practice known as, “Intuitive Painting”.

Here at HPM, we’ve dabbled with the medium of paint as a creative outlet before ourselves, and while we’d never specifically heard of intuitive painting, as being an actual “thing” before, the thought of getting to splodge some paint around, on a nice fresh clean canvas, always holds appeal.  Especially, when there are no aims, no goals, and no objectives, other than to just let go and paint. And particularly, as is the case in the video below, when accompanied by some super-chilled out Handpan music…

Intuitive painting by: Aline LARANT, Music by: Sylvain LACOUCHIE of: AML Musicothérapie. Performed on an Aciel Handpan.

What is Intuitive Painting?

Well, essentially, as stated above, it’s the practice of just letting it all flow out, and letting whatever will be, be, utilizing the medium of paint.  It’s not necessarily the practice of simply “making a mess”, as our description might thus far suggest, but instead, as the name suggests, it’s all about listening to your intuition, and letting it guide you.  Which, with the Swiss Hang-makers, PANArt, having been known to refer to the Hang as a “mirror to the soul”, suggesting that you should “feel”, rather than “think” while playing, Intuitive painting, and Handpan music, would seem to be perfect bedfellows.  And what we find particularly fascinating about the concept when accompanied by the Handpan, is that it transforms the instrument from a tool of creative output, into a source of creative input - in what feels like a very pure way.

Thought of by some as the practice of meditating, with a brush in your hand - If you read around the net too much, you could be in danger of thinking that this is something only for Ultra-Spiritual Types...  

‘...the practice allows you to open more to presence and spaciousness and self compassion. To the dreamtime and the invisible realms. To a deeper connection with the spark of spirit and your innate divine wisdom.’ By http://creativejuicesarts.com/what-is-intuitive-painting/

However, we find ourselves of the opinion, that whether you’re looking to “spark the spirit of your innate divine wisdom”, or simply happen to have a box of paints lying around your home, and have a half-hour to kill, intuitive painting, is something that we can all enjoy - should we choose to.

* Visiting this site, fancy giving it a go, but don’t happen to have a Handpan musician handily nearby? - you can find a lot of great Handpan music for download over at Bandcamp, where you can also find the HPM sampler album, available for free download: HERE.


The Passing of George Martin, "The Fifth Beatle" - A HandPan Tribute

The music world was greeted with sad news this week, with the passing of the “Fifth Beatle”, Sir George Martin, aged 90.

The conductor, to The Beatle’s orchestra, George Martin was an English record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer and musician. Who is often referred to as being the "Fifth Beatle", including by Paul McCartney himself, in reference to his extensive involvement on each of the Beatles' original albums.  

The music came from the Beatles – but in many ways, it was George Martin’s willingness to step outside the boundaries of what was acceptable, that helped make them special.

Credited as the “man who re-invented pop-music”, George Martin was a regular at the now world-famous Abbey Road Studios.  Which is where the Beatles would first audition for him, on June the 6th, 1962, in a meeting that would change the face of music forever.

On a personal note, having grown up listening to the collection of Beatle’s vinyl my parents had accumulated, and adored themselves, as young-hip Mods and Rockers.  Albums that I would increasingly take-to-heart, and treasure myself, in my later teens - stealing them away from my parents, and claiming them as my own.  Despite the partial-numbness that comes from being bombarded on an almost daily basis, with news of yet another departed celebrity, via Social Media, the news of George Martin’s passing, feels particularly poignant, to those of us who found favour with, comfort in, or were influenced by -  the music of The Beatles, polished by the hands of the legendary Sir George.

Eleanor Rigby - by Lewa

'Last Saturday we recorded an Eleanor Rigby cover with Handpan, viola & violín. Yesterday we have awakened with the sad news of the death of the AMAZING George Martín, original arranger of this and many other unforgettable Beatles songs. Here goes, not foreseeing it, our little tribute...'

By Handpan artist, Lewa, find her at Facebook: HERE

More Beatle's Inspired HandPan Music

Lewa, and ourselves, are not the only lovers of Handpan to have been inspired by the music of The Beatles.  As can be seen in the following video featuring Handpan musician Steven Werner...

And the following performance, featuring the Handpan community's very own shining-star, Dante Bucci...

Gamelan, and the Pang Orchestra

Gamelan Orchestra
We’ll be honest with you, up until shortly before writing this post, we had no idea what "Gamelan" were. It’s a name that we’ve heard of many times while reading up on the Hang, and is something that is often cited as being “influential” in the creation of the Hang, by PANArt.

However, we had assumed that as with the “Gong”, and the “Ghatam”, two other forms of instrument that PANArt often refer to as being of note within their research, that Gamelan were of a more singular form.  Whereas, as we have very recently found out, that is not the case at all.  Gamelan, are a collection of varied instruments, native to the traditional ensemble music of Java and Bali in Indonesia...  

Gamelan orchestra are made up predominantly of percussive instruments - with the most common instruments used being metallophones played by mallets and a set of hand-played drums called "Kendhang" which register the beat. Though xylophones, bamboo flutes, a bowed instrument called a "Rebab", and even vocalists called "Sindhen", can also play their part (among other instrument types).

The name Gamelan essentially means “hammer”, and is derived from the fact that the base instruments are played with a hammer-like tool. And Gamelan music is usually performed for background music to shadow puppet plays, or at a traditional dance.

The Pang Orchestra

With the Hang being somewhat like the member of the “boy-band” that went solo, making more money, and accumulating more fame, than the group combined ever would - it’s easy to forget that the Hang was always a part of an instrumental collective.  While in recent times we’ve been introduced to some newer additions to the “Pang Orchestra” such as the sort-of-Hang-like "Gubal", the Udu-like, "Hang Gudu", and the Stringed, "Pang Sei" - the Pang Orchestra itself (a collection of instruments made from PANArt’s patented material known as ‘Pang’), has been around for longer than the Hang has - w
ith earlier members of the Pang orchestra including: Pang Bells, Tubal, Orages, Ping, Peng, Pong, and Pung (photo: HERE).  

And you can watch a video of the first Pang Orchestra (or Pang-band at least) that we've seen outside of the house of PANArt, below...

Video by, Gu'Band - find them at Facebook: HERE
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