Vision KUNDA - A Stringed Handpan Instrument

Over the last six years of writing this blog we imagine that more than one post has begun with “just when you thought you’d seen it all...”

However, as frequently as we might start to believe that we have.  We are always proven wrong.

Vision KUNDA - A Stringed Handpan Instrument

While the original Hang-makers have experimented in recent times with stringed Pang-instruments.  And other makers such as Aciel’s, Micheal Colley, have experimented with the concept the of the stringed-Handpan.  The newly annouced KUNDA, from Italian Handpan makers, Vision Instruments, approaches the concept very much in its own way.  Utilising the Handpan’s natural reverberating cavity in the same manner as an acoustic guitar.  Presenting some really interesting possibilities - particularly for vertical play.

Described as being ‘A Handpan based instrument with strong resonances between strings and Handpan tonefields’, despite the instrument names unfortunate Czech translation (Google at your own risk), we’re liking the early sounds of the KUNDA a lot.  And look forward to hearing them make their way into the hands of players

>> Seek further information at the Vision Instruments website: HERE


Is the HandPan an Instrument of Satan? - KaribPAN Seems to Think So

While it’s very tempting to keep our heads well below the parapet on the following topic, for fear of drawing accusations of Demonic involvement ourselves (just don’t play our sampler album backwards). Certain articles posted on the KaribPAN website in recent times, have proven intriguing.  And should it be a rabbit hole that you're willing to dive down for yourself, if nothing else, you should emerge thoroughly entertained (more so than reading this website - if you believe the same "Blessings of love and light" type critics who probably set KaribPAN off in the first place - here's a present for those guys :p).

To our knowledge it began with a blog post titled, “The HandPan Mafia”, that was essentially an all-out attack against the Handpan instrument, and the culture, and community that surrounds it (Facebook reacts here).  Just previous to its posting we witnessed several (arguably overly-enthusiastic) public criticisms of the sounds of the KaribPAN over at Facebook. And the whole thing had the air of a feeling-underappreciated new-maker to the scene, retaliating.

And you might have expected that, to be the end of that.  But it wasn’t.

Over the last few weeks (and the author shows no sign of stopping anytime soon), the blog posts have taken many a strange turn.  From a fairly broad and generic attack against the entire Handpan scene, through to accusations of theft against the peoples of Trinidad and Tobago, the home of the Steel Pan.  Before settling for now (at time of posting) firmly in the area of the occult.  With prominent members of the Handpan community being called out, one-by-one, on their Demonic affiliations.

While some of the posts have arguably gone too far in terms of the personal attacks involved, even going as far as to make target of a much-loved, and recently deceased member of the industry - our main issue with the posts, is our own befuddlement with them...

Are they the retaliation of an aspiring-maker whose initial-offerings fell victim to the oft-sharp-tongues of Facebook’s Handpan-critics?  The first signs of genuine backlash against the newer Handpan-scene, from the older Steel Pan scene of the Caribbean that birthed it?  An elaborate joke? The bona-fide ravings of an aluminum-hat wearing madman?  Or is the Handpan-world indeed the hive of ungodly activity that KaribPAN would like you to believe that it is? Deserving of the Holy-war that KaribPAN is currently waging against it (their most recent post almost had us convinced - almost)...



Sam Maher on HandPan - Terra in the Tunnels

If it feels like "Sam Maher Month" here at HPM, with this being the third near-consecutive post featuring him thus far. As far as we’re concerned - he’s earned it.  Because while the saying “a rising tide lifts all boats” perhaps sounds a little opportunistic - traffic to this site has tripled over the last week or so, as a result of a recent video of Sam's shared over at Facebook having blown-up in a big way - racking up over five million views in just two weeks.  And spreading rapidly.  With over 150,000 shares. And over 50,000 likes (and counting). Spreading further still via platforms like Twitter. Introducing an army of new admirers to the sounds of UFO-shaped singing-steel.

And while we’ve probably all stumbled across YouTube videos with few views that were awesome, that we felt were deserving of more attention.  In the instance of Sam Maher’s ‘New York Handpan 01’ (featured below), it’s clear that “the people” have chosen wisely.  With it being one of the finest Handpan performances that a person could ever hope to witness.

Over at Sam’s Facebook page it suggests that he’s from Perth, Western Australia.  Though it’s possible that that is just where he finds himself currently.  A few years back we followed his travels around South America (with his Handpan) via his Facebook posts. And in addition to insane Handpan talents, Sam Maher is also a truly-inspirational travel-writer/blogger.  And while we’d certainly encourage you to visit his Facebook page and skip back through his older posts if you’d like to grab a read of that - this podcast episode featuring Sam Maher over at MissionControl also makes for a very enjoyable listen.  In which he also discusses the New York City busking-scene - as featured in the video in question…

What you don't hear in the video over at Facebook, that you do hear in the YouTube version above, is the ending.  In which both Sam, and the guy from BUSKRS exclaim, "That's the one!".  And you find yourself nodding firmly in agreement.  We haven't heard it thrown around much in recent times, but in the earlier days of the Hang, the sound of the instrument was often described as being like a "Chorus of Angels", which we believe originated with Hang-maker, Felix Rohner, himself.  And listening to Sam play, it is especially easy to imagine a Choir of Angels imbued within the steel, conducted and enticed to sing, by Sam Maher's dancing hands and fingers.

For those who are interested, the Handpan played by Sam Maher in the video above is a Terrapan brand of Handpan, made by U.S. makers, TerraTonz.  And for comparison, below you can watch one of the first videos we ever stumbled across of Sam on Handpan, performing on an Innersound, in the middle of a Perth shoe-store, from back in 2013...

And catch his most recent video (at time of posting) below...

To get the latest from Sam Maher you can subscribe to his YouTube channel: HERE.  Or follow him at Facebook: HERE


When a Spacedrum, Isn’t a Spacedrum

With Handpan virtuoso Sam Maher’s New York subway video going crazy-viral at time of posting, as we often do, we’re seeing a number of people advising others via Facebook comments and the like, as to what the instrument in question actually is. With one answer popping up frequently being that the instrument that Sam is playing, is a “Spacedrum”.

The naming of these steel-UFO-shaped-instruments over the years has at times been a fairly confusing matter.  And a matter of significant contention.  Particularly with regards to the moniker “Hang drum”, which arguably still remains the most commonly used name for these instruments outside of the core-community that surround them.  Despite the protests of the original makers PANArt, that Hang, are not a "drum".

The more generic term “Handpan”, as coined by one of the earliest Hang-inspired makers, Pantheon Steel, is that most widely used by those more familiar with the instrument-type.  Though other names such as “Pantam”, and “Disco Armonico” also have their proponents.

Among those a little less familiar with the instrument type though, a new name is spreading fast, and that is the name of “Spacedrum”.  This almost certainly has much to do with the heartbeat-like regularity with which Yuki Koshimoto’s video (below) goes viral over at Facebook, and other Social-Media platforms (this remix is also very cool if you haven’t yet seen it).  But also quite possibly it has something to do with the UFO-shape of the Hang, and Handpan.  Making Spacedrum a relatively easy name to remember off-the-cuff...

What is a Spacedrum?

Spacedrum are a specific brand of Handpan, made in France.  And Yuki Koshimoto plays a 13-note chromatic Handpan made by these particular makers, who go by the name Metal Sounds.  So that while we actually quite like the name Spacedrum ourselves here at HPM - there is some danger in using it in a general sense.  If only to those considering a Handpan purchase, who could, if not careful, find themselves dropping cash on something that isn’t as it might seem (such as this Bali-made instrument being advertised as being a “Spacedrum” over at eBay at time of posting).

*...and if you were wondering what make of Handpan Sam Maher is playing in the video mentioned at the beginning of this post, it's actually an instrument made by U.S. makers, TerraTonz.


Making HandPan Shells - Building a Hydroforming Machine, with Colin Foulke

Arguably the biggest news item this week in Handpan-land, has been the generous offering made by Handpan-musician, turned Handpan-maker, Colin Foulke.  In the form of detailed information regarding, and detailed plans for constructing, your own “Hydroforming” machine (should that be something that you might be interested in building). For the purpose of conveniently producing self-made Handpan shells (the blank canvas from which Handpan are usually made).

The “How to make a Handpan” page - a loose grouping of videos and information we’ve collected together over the years remains one of this sites most popular reads. And while the process of hydroforming shells may have quietly been in use by other Handpan manufacturers for a while now - information of this detail, shared by Colin in the spirit of the early days of Hang, will be (and has been), gratefully-received.

Hydroforming is the process of using high-pressure-fluids to form metals such as steel, into a desired shape.  And not only is hydroforming widely considered to be a “cost-effective” mechanism for shaping metals - for the Handpan-maker using hammers, or even air-hammers to produce their shells, this is surely a production method that promises to be considerably less jarring.

Without further ado, and to put an end to us babbling on as if we know anything more about hydroforming than what we ripped off from Wikipedia above, and what you’ll glean for yourselves from the following video, here’s Colin Foulke himself, to tell you all about it…

To get to the meat-and-bones of the machine, including building instructions, and diagrams, plus a part-by-part Amazon-linked shopping list - detailing all you'll need to build your own Colin Foulke-style hydroforming machine.  You'll need to head over to Colin's website, where you'll find all of that, and more.  But before we direct you onwards, here's a final video shared from Colin Foulke's YouTube channel, that compares two different Handpan made by Colin himself, one hand-sunk, and the other hydroformed...


Reto Weber Where Are You Now?

While we could find no mention of Reto Weber’s part-played in PANArt’s 2013 published book, Hang: Sound Sculpture.  Delve back through older resources and you'll find numerous references as to the Swiss percussionist, Reto Weber, being credited as being the man who first suggested the idea of an instrument like the Hang / Handpan, to steel-instrument manufacturers PANArt. Expressing a desire for a “sounding pot in steel with some notes to play with the hands”  Which is why back in 2011, we described Reto Weber, as being the “Spark that started a Handpan fire”.

And while evidence appears to suggest (albeit fragmented and incomplete) that an interview published in the Swiss music magazine, Swiss Musikzeitung, named Reto, as the inventor of the Hang.  Prompting Hang-maker, Felix Rohner to respond - ‘The slope is not the result of an idea’, ‘The history of the Hang is not the story of an Invention in the classical sense an instrument that such a world great response trigger as the Hang, you can not invent’.  It certainly seems possible that without Reto’s suggestion, the Hang might never have been born.  And whether you consider the man with the raw idea, or the man who takes that raw idea, and beats it into life with a hammer, to be the inventor - we leave to you.

''it sounds like it was a leap of insight when the right people got asked by someone to realize a vague notion -- people who were able to take that seed and rapidly bring it to flower.' - Aaron Ximm

Reto Weber Where Are You Now?

Sixteen years on from the birth of the instrument that Reto’s 1999 visit to the Hanghaus ignited, and we can see that Reto Weber is still very much playing Hang.  Primarily it seems (at time of posting) alongside, Chico Freeman. A modern jazz tenor saxophonist and trumpeter, and son of jazz saxophonist, Von Freeman...

And while the video above is a few years old now, the following more recent offering from just four days back, shows that the Hang, PANArt’s take on Reto's imagined ‘sounding pot with notes’ - is still very much in his heart, and in his lap…


The PANArt Gubal Reconsidered

Back in the summer of 2013 with the announcement of PANArt’s new instrument, the Gubal, we were understandably excited.  Like others we caught a sneak-preview at what the Gubal might look like, when PANArt-submitted registered-design photos appeared online, and we swiftly purchased PANArt’s book, published shortly after, that promised via its accompanying CD, the only way to get a first-listen to the sounds of their newest creation.

With the CD listened to however, and over the following months a string of Gubal-video performances consumed, the excitement faded - with the Gubal leaving us feeling somewhat underwhelmed. Despite the Gubal being relatively Hang-like in appearance (though with considerably more junk in its trunk), the sound of the Gubal failed to enchant us, in any manner close to that which its older sibling the Hang had.

We lamented a little, and then moved on to take joy in the ever increasing number of new Handpan makers that were popping-up near-daily.  But even as we pushed the Gubal to the back of our thoughts, a part of us considered that perhaps all that the Gubal was really missing, was its own coming Manu Delago(s). Players who would pick up this new instrument, bulbous-globe straddled between their thighs, make it their own, and deliver performances to reignite some of that lost PANArt-lustre.  And inspire us, with the Gubal in mind, to reach for ink and paper, with thoughts of penning a good old-fashioned Bern-addressed begging-letter...

Inviter à la danse - Performed by Alem, on the PANArt Gubal


The Bali Steel Pan - 2016 Model

Old-style Bali (left), 2016-model Bali (right)
The Bali Steel Pan was among the first “Hang alternatives” we learned of here at HPM, back in 2010. And alongside the Halo, the BElls, the Spacedrum, and the Caisa, these Bali-made Handpan were among the first makes to hit the market, in the wake of the success of the PANArt Hang.

Initially, back when there were very few alternatives, the Bali Steel Pan received its fair share of love.  But as more and more options have made themselves available, love for the Bali, in its original form, has seemingly waned somewhat. And the instruments have often been criticised of showing little-to-no-improvement, despite the growing number of passing years the Bali guys have been accumulating as makers.

The Bali Steel Pan - 2016 Model

As it turns out though, the Bali-makers have not been sat quite so idly on their thumbs, as some might have believed.  And with the recent announcement of their all new 2016 model Bali, we can now take a first look at what promises to be a considerably different beast...

What's New?

* It is made from thicker steel and not the bottom of an oil barrel.
* Not painted.
* Oval dimples.
* Smaller size (about 22 inches wide).
* New metal hardening process.
* The promise of increased sustain, and stronger harmonics.

You can find the latest generation of Bali Steel Pan for sale via the official ETSY store: HERE, or find more information on the 2016 model Bali Steel Pan over at their website: HERE

Celebrating World UFO Day, 2016 - HandPan-Style

With the Handpan’s shape being strongly reminiscent of the classic “Flying Saucer” type of UFO, it seems only right that we join hand-in-hand with our sky-watching-brethren, to celebrate “World UFO Day”, this July the 2nd, 2016.

World UFO Day is intended to raise awareness of “the undoubted existence of UFOs”, and to encourage governments to declassify their files on UFO sightings.  And the date July the 2nd, commemorates the supposed UFO crash in the 1947 Roswell Incident.

However, here at HPM, to celebrate World UFO Day - Handpan-style - we’re going to take a look at the five "most watched" Handpan videos over at YouTube, from over the last twelve months.

Sam Maher - New York Handpan 02

With 35,470 views, Sam Maher, comes in as fifth most viewed, featured at the “BUSKRS” YouTube channel.  Sam Maher is one of those Handpan musicians who sneaks off radar from time-to-time, and then pops up again, to remind you of exactly why it is that you remember his name…

1 HOUR Handpan \ Hang drum \ Pantam relaxing Solo Chilout

2, 3, 4 minutes of Handpan music not enough for you in one sitting?  You’re not alone.  With 39,949 views, coming in as the fourth most viewed Handpan video of the last twelve months, is, Ariel Hillel, and his near-hour-long meditative soundscape…

Gevurah - Tzevaot Handpan (Official Music Video)

Coming in as third most viewed with 47,869 hits is, “Gevurah”, by U.S. Handpan producers, Tzevaot.  A cinematic-feast featuring Tzevaot man, Teddy Amkie, shrouded in flames, performing on a Tzevaot Aeolian scale handpan...

Bello Banff - A Time Lapse HandPan Video - Daniel Waples [HD]

Facebook’s most followed, and arguably the most recognisable man in Handpan-music, Daniel Waples, comes in as the second most viewed on our list, at 145,177 views. With his blissfully-serene Hobbit-esque time-lapse offering....

Sam Maher - New York Handpan 01

If you loved our first featured video above, showcasing the Handpan-talents of Sam Maher, you’ll be happy to find that its accompanying performance from over at the BUSKRS YouTube channel, at 187,385 views, ranks as thee most watched Handpan YouTube video of the last twelve months.  And we think that you’ll agree, that while "number of views" is not always, and automatically, a metric of quality, Sam Maher’s performance below is as fine a Handpan performance, as you could ever hope to witness...

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