Ornately Decorated Handpan - Eye-Catching Designs

For a good while steel tongue drum were the "peacocks" of UFO-shaped singing steel, while Handpan remained, in general, more humble in their appearance.  Over the last few years though we’ve shared posts on a handful of more elaborately decorated Handpan, such as those by Vadjraghanta, and SoHung.  And while quality of sound should always remain the most sought-after quality to search for in a Handpan (in our opinion at least), should you be looking to make a purchase, the trend towards ever more aesthetically pleasing Handpan appears to be gaining momentum.  And if you can have both sound, and appealing looks, well, why not?

Below are featured a number of the more ornate Handpan offerings that we have stumbled across in recent times, for your perusal…


The following pictures are of an Innersound Handpan shared via Facebook by Handpan Musician, Kim Metcalf, that found its way into the hands of tattoo-artist, Clare Lupino.  These photos of this Innersound Handpan embellished with what is believed to be some kind of  gold enamel paint, have become one of the most liked publicly-available Handpan Facebook posts of recent times...

Hamsa Handpan

While the above appears to be an example of an artist working upon their Handpan independently of the original maker.  The following photo appears to demonstrate a collaborative work between Hamsa Handpan maker, Stevan Morris, and artist, Pirouz Ghayouri.  To see the bottom shell of this pan, decorated with an incredibly ornate rendering of the Hamsa Handpan logo…

PanAmor Sound Sculptures

And the following recently shared photographs appear to be an example of ornate Handpan design added during the building phase itself, with this geometric-mandala type offering coming straight out of the workshop of UK Handpan-makers, Pan Amor...

Selling Royalty Free Handpan Music

In the past here at HPM we’ve published posts on selling your Handpan music via Bandcamp, and making money from your videos using Google’s adsense program.  And in a similar vain, with this post, will be taking a look at the idea of selling (or indeed, buying) Handpan music, in a royalty-free format.

What Does Royalty Free Mean?

Royalty-free, or RF, refers to the right to use copyright material or intellectual property without the need to pay royalties or license fees for each use or per volume sold, or some time period of use or sales.

Or, for our purposes here - when you sell your Handpan music royalty-free, you charge the buyer a one-off fee, for the right to use your work without requiring them to pay yourself future royalties (all very self-explanatory).

With royalties being: ‘a sum paid to a patentee for the use of a patent or to an author or composer for each copy of a book sold or for each public performance of a work.'

Selling Your Music Royalty Free

Selling your work royalty-free for a one off payment is something that is ultimately a judgement call. Should some Disney executive stumble across it and decide that your composition is the perfect fit for their next summer blockbuster, a one-off payment, compared to a small fortune lost in residuals, could make you wretch later down the line.  But if you judge the chances of that happening unlikely, you’re just trying to keep the lights on and some food in the fridge, or just fancy making a little extra money for whatever your reasons - selling your music in the royalty-free marketplaces, could be of interest to you.

Pond 5

And you wouldn’t be alone if you’re keen.  Because over at the Pond 5 website, a New York based online marketplace for royalty-free media - Handpan music is already being bought and sold.  Primarily under the ever-popular "Hang Drum" moniker, at time of posting, but also as the more conventional, Handpan.

Bringing into Question Ballistol and FrogLube

While PANArt recommended Biofa Oil, for protecting Hanghang from rust, in earlier years, and later switched to a new biopolymer-based cleaning and anti-corrosive fluid, known as “Hang cleaning fluid”, when an independent study was carried out by a member of Handpan.org back in 2011, testing various substances for their rust-preventing properties, against fragments of Handpan shell, which found FrogLube, and Ballistol, to be the best performing - these two concoctions became widely embraced - and until recently at least, have served as the two main go-tos, for Handpan rust protection/prevention.

However, two studies published just recently, by folks deeply involved in the building of Handpan, have, for differing reasons, called out both of these popular Handpan anti-corrosion treatments, as possibly having detrimental effects upon our instruments. Are these guys simply trying to drum up more business for their buddies over at Phoenix Handpan Care? Or should we be worried? Read on to find out more...

The Case of the Glue-Eating Oil

Aura Handpan-man, Jon Antzoulis, recently shared a study that he'd conducted into the possible negative effects of various oils upon the glue used to join the upper and lower Handpan shells:

"Over the past year, I have encountered at least 3 instances where the glue inside completed instruments appeared to have dissolved or changed in consistency, causing the shells to come apart from one another.", " I suspected that the glue was somehow being compromised by the lubricants that we use to protect our instruments from rust, so on November 29, 2016, I decided to do a test..."

Read Full Study

The Death of Sustain

Saraz Handpan-man, Josh Rivera, has also been conducting his own tests recently, having witnessed what he believes to be the negative effects of oils like Ballistol, and FrogLube, upon a Handpan's overall sound...

"As many of you know, I had spent months researching different oils and protections for the handpan, after having noticed a significant loss of sound using Balistol. Of course, after noticing it with Balistol, I then noticed it with FrogLube", "...after spending so much effort to get a sound/sustain we enjoy, having it altered and effectively undermined by the oils we use was getting quite frustrating. after spending so much effort to get a sound/sustain we enjoy, having it altered and effectively undermined by the oils we use was getting quite frustrating. "

Read Full Study

Solos Handpan - Made in Canada

At time of posting there aren’t too many makers that we know of based in Canada for those hailing from those lands to choose from.  But one of the most established Canadian makers now, and easily verifiable, is Pepeto Pinto, the man behind the hammer at “Solos Handpans” (also known as “PintoPans”).

Based in Charlottetown, Jamaica-born steelpan tuner, turned Canadian, Pepeto, told cbc.ca in an interview "I took three years to understand fully the instrument and how to build it - Although it was an inspiration of the steel drum, it still had some unique differences.".  "Producing a handpan can take anywhere from a few days to a month - It's an art — an art sculpture..."

What do those who have purchased Solos Handpan have to say about them?  Luckily, to find out, we need look no further than over at ETSY, where, at time of posting, Pepeto’s craftsmanship, and customer service, both, have earned him a solid five star rating (no easy feat on any e-commerce platform).  With previous purchasers leaving such reviews as, “I've been loving this handpan and have been spending time with it as much as possible since it arrived. The construction is solid, the color is beautiful, and the tones and scale are fantastic. Pepeto was very communicative and a pleasure to work with throughout the process”, and “Sooo impressed and in love with my Handpan in D minor! Notes are clear, sharp and eupherial just the way my soul likes to be addressed. Thank you Pepeto for your craftsmanship and communication throughout the process of crafting this beauty.”...

Solos Handpan can be found for sale via the PintoPans ETSY store: HERE.  Or for more information you can find Solos Handpans at Facebook: HERE

The Oval Synth App

Back in 2015 we reported on the crowdfunded Handpan-like electronic instrument, the Oval.  And while backers of the Oval’s Kickstarter campaign may have had something of an over-extended wait for their physical units to start making their way out of the workshop doors, and on-wards towards them. In the meantime, the Oval team have released the Oval’s accompanying app, for free download over at iTunes.  In addition to being of particular interest to those who are just now beginning to receive their Ovals, those still waiting, and those of us who have been curious about the project since its first announcement, but have yet to part with any money, awaiting videos, and reviews, from early adopters - Oval Synth, will likely also be interest to those looking for a Handpan-style App to play around with on their (and at this point it does appear to be for Apple only) iDevices.  

Beta tester Jakob Haq sings the Apps praises (and it’s worth pointing out at this point that despite Jakob's now outdated disclaimer - the App is now available to all) below...
And YouTube user thesoundtestroom gives Oval Synth a solid dissection…
To download Oval Synth, you can find it over at iTunes: HERE.

Horizon Zero Dawn - Handpan Spotted

A cool little spot from Brandon Chia over at Facebook, that shows (in the picture below) what is clearly some kind of Handpan instrument featured in the 2017 released video game, Horizon Zero Dawn...

Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing video game developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4. And now, (updating the original post here) thanks to YouTube user adtn64, you can check out the Horion Zero Dawn Handpan in glorious full-motion, below...

And while super-cool to see - this is not the Handpan's first foray into the world of video games.  With Handpan, or "Hang drum", having been seen in Linden Lab's "Second Life", as far back as 2011.  And having also been featured in a number of video game soundtracks, including that of the hugely popular Minecraft, and also on the soundtrack for Far Cry 4.

Rudiments for Handpan - Improve Coordination and Complexity

In many ways the beauty of the Handpan as an instrument, particularly for those without a musical background, is that there is no set way in which the Handpan should be played.  Or in other words, you can place a Handpan in the lap of almost anybody, and without tuition, or training of any kind, it will usually not be long before they are exploring the instrument intuitively, and creating beautiful sounds with very little effort.  

With that said though, there is an increasing amount of media to be found online aimed at helping Handpan musicians improve their skills - some of which is designed specifically for this newer instrument type, and some of which, borrows from the older realm of percussion, and drumming.  Such as “Rudiments”, percussive patterns intended to improve skills like speed, coordination, and complexity.

There ar 40 drum rudiments, ranging from single stroke (right - left - right - left), double strokes (RR - LL - RR - LL), through to such things as paradiddles (RLRR - LRLL).  And you can find a YouTube playlist that teaches these 40 rudiments HERE.

Rudiments for Handpan with David Urban

We recently highlighted David Urban’s series of YouTube Handpan lessons over in the HPM forum, and in this post we’re going to further showcase lessons four, five, and six, which deal specifically with rudiments for Handpan.  And do a great job of elaborating on how rudiments can be applied to the Handpan to increase a player's skill-set…

You can find more Handpan lessons with David Urban over at his YouTube channel HERE.

Yoon - Handpan Music from South Korea

One of our new year's resolutions here at HPM, for 2017, was to try to do more to shine a light on musicians and artists doing great things with the Handpan.  Something that in recent years we have been a little slack with, as our interests led us elsewhere.  And so with that in mind, with this post, we aim to draw your attentions towards the Handpan awesomeness of Korean musician, Yoon hwan kim (AKA “Yoon”).

A fitting stable-mate for fellow South-Korean Handpan-performer Sungeun Jin, though very much with his own flavour, Yoon’s latest composition and video, titled “Cloud City”, shows off both his skill on the Handpan, and also his new found love of film-making, and production...

Yoon describes his music as being “Highzent music”, which he further categorizes as being: funky, groovy, dynamic, techno, darkness, and ambient.  And in addition to his love of the Handpan, he is also a skilled performer on the didgeridoo.  

And if you enjoyed Yoon’s solo performance above, you might also like to take a listen to his tentatively named outfit “D Unit”, featuring Handpan alongside guitar, didgeridoo, and beat box…

For more information on Yoon, and his music, you can visit him over at his website: HERE Or you can follow his activities over at Facebook: HERE.

A Choir of Angels - and the Sound of the Handpan

A “Chorus" and/or "Choir" of Angels are terms often used to describe the sound of the Hang / Handpan - and it is a descriptive believed to have originated with Hang-maker, Felix Rohner, himself.  And additionally, in the 2010 PANArt-published Hang Guide, PANArt would again refer to the architecture of the Hang in a similar manner:

‘...getting to know the hang choir. The center is the DING. There are seven voices spread around the dome. If you stimulate this dome at any point, a variegated sound mix will appear. Stronger stimulation opens the sound more. You have entered a room. The inner ear senses a cosmic expanse, the visual sense is weaker and you begin to hear – to hark.’  

Terminology that would strengthen the concept of the Hang’s sound bearing resemblance to a choir. Or more specifically, a choir of Angels.

‘When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy’ - Job 38:7

And whether a follower of the Bible, or not, having heard the sounds of the Handpan, quite possibly you can appreciate that kind of imagery - if only in the abstract.

And if you've ever wondered what a choir of Angels might sound like, the following video purports to have captured exactly that...

And for those who prefer their choirs of singing Angels a little more Earth-born, and with some Handpan accompaniment, check out the following videos for some great examples...

Indian Fusion Dance - And Handpan Music

Increasingly these days here at HPM, where the Handpan leads, we follow.  And as more and more people take up the instrument type, the steel-UFO finds its way into evermore interesting situations, and scenarios.  Such as in the following video, that sees the Handpan married with the art of “Indian Fusion Dance”...

Dance is a hugely recognisable and popular element of Indian culture.  And Indian Fusion Dance is a modern style that is grounded in traditional Indian dance, but also introduces and infuses modern dance techniques from all over the world.  To create something that is both instantly familiar, yet also contemporary.  Which when combined with one of the world’s newest musical instruments, makes for a spectacle that is certainly worthy of a watch...

And while the following is a Handpan-free example, if you’d like to see more from the Navaratna Dance Studio (featured above), the video below also makes for enjoyable viewing...

WidJana - New Handpan from the Ukraine

eBay might take a lot of fire within the core Handpan community for being an “evil corporation”, and all that stuff (which, to be honest, they kind of are), but, over the last seven years of writing this blog, eBay falls second only to YouTube, as the platform through which we have discovered many new builders.  With a fair number even of the now established makers, having sold their earliest instruments via the auction platform, before building up their reputations enough to sell elsewhere. And to this day, eBay continues to frequently reveal new makes of Handpan, that we might otherwise not have discovered.  As happened recently when a Handpan by “WidJana” was listed for sale. A Handpan that, at a time when eBay sales of Handpan have been a little stagnant, caused something of a stir. Not based on established reputation (or at least, not on one that we are aware of here at HPM, having not heard of these guys previously), but solely, on the obvious quality of their sound…

WidJana Handpan, also seemingly going by the name of “Jan Drum”, are made in Chernivtsi, in Ukraine. And are Believed to be the work of one, Alex Dostovalov (though this has not yet been confirmed at time of posting).  And with another three Widjana Handpan listed on eBay at time of posting again garnering considerable attention (and bids) - it shows that while an established reputation for producing quality time-and-time again goes a long way within the Handpan scene, there is still plenty of room for newer makers who are able to hit the desired mark...

For more information you can visit WidJana at ETSY HERE.

© HandPans Magazine