Arcana Musical Instruments - Handpan Made in Colorado

We stumbled across the work of Arcana Musical Instruments for sale a little whiles back now over at ETSY, and were instantly impressed.  Built by Josh Keegan, and Jerred Houseman, in Colorado, U.S., Arcana Musical Instruments got the big thumbs up from Handpan musician, Brandon Dautrich, who when giving them a shout-out over at Facebook expressed that:

And in many ways, our reasons for publishing this post, other than in celebration of the awesome work thus far of the Arcana Musical Instruments crew in general, stems from the fact that at time of posting, there are six of these Handpan, all sounding sweet (to our ears), and relatively speaking all reasonably priced, sat unclaimed over in their store. Which kind of feels a little bit like a crime...

“Amazing artists dedicated to creating unsurpassed quality instruments with beautiful sound. These instruments are awesome…”  Reads one review from over at their Facebook page.  While another states, “They make a great pan at a great price and stand behind their work - I highly recommend these guys !!!!”. And while we always encourage our readers to make up their own minds as to what they find pleasing, and/or don't, in a Handpan. For us here at HPM, those reviews are mere garnish. Our ears tell us everything we need to know...

Often times we’ve seen over the years that Handpan-players go on to become the best makers later down the track - and at least one of the two guys at Arcana has been playing for years.  Add to that the fact that these guys are hanging out with the likes of established Handpan builder, Dave Beery, of Dave’s Island Instruments, and are buddied up sharing tools and ideas with a number of other makers - should you require anything more than your own ears to go by - within that you should find at least some measure of reassurance...

To make a purchase you can visit the Arcana Musical Instruments ETSY store: HERE.  Or for more information and to keep up-to-date, you can find them over at Facebook: HERE

Video of PANArt's Felix Rohner Building a "Handpan"

We should be clear from the start, that for the purposes of this post at least, the following video is not of Felix Rohner building a “PANArt Hang” (one of PANArt’s own creations), but is instead a video of PANArt's Felix Rohner building a “Handpan”.  Or at least, what in his view, constitutes a Handpan - an “imitation” of PANArt’s own Hang instruments, that PANArt themselves have been generally critical of across the board.  

In their book, “Hang: Sound Sculpture”, PANArt state of these imitators that “they often copy the Hang’s external details, but do not play close attention to the sound-quality.”  In a blog post over at their official website PANArt describe others as sounding “dead, and lifeless”.  Felix is also vocally critical of the Hang-inspired scene, and instruments, in his song, Ellie’s Response.  And in further attempt to illustrate the differences between Hang and Handpan, during YouTube user, Gubalspieler’s recent visit to meet with Felix, the following video was recorded…

“Not long ago I visited the PANArt team in its workshop. There I found a handpan lying on the floor. I tried it out. At the first moment it sounded nice. But after a short time playing became boring… - I talked with PANArt Tuner Felix Rohner about my feelings. He told me that this instrument was made with a relative simple tuning technique using plates with string like modes as tone fields… - You can build your own. It needs only a short time to make such an instrument. I can show you how… - It is very different from the usual PANArt tuning method…”

Here at HPM we find that this view is likely too overly-simplistic to be all-encompassing of the work of the now hundreds of Handpan makers around the world building their own Hang-inspired instruments. But it makes for an interesting and insightful video none-the-less.  And with our page on Handpan-making always being popular, even if intended as a “how not to do it” type video - it could still prove of interest to those looking to build themselves a simple D.I.Y Handpan.  

To read the videos full (and considerably more lengthy) description, click HERE to visit YouTube.  Alternatively, you can catch the latest from PANArt over at Facebook: HERE. or via their website: HERE.

The Hangwallah - Handpan Music by Lukas Zeller

With the sun out.  And a glass of red wine in hand.  Here at HPM we needed Handpan music.  And while when we usually head over to YouTube it’s to catch the day’s latest videos, today; we needed something more solid.  An album.  And on typing “Full Handpan Album” into YouTube, there in first result was, Lukas Zeller’s, "The Hangwallah".  A full album recorded using Hang, Halo, and SteelHarp.  And wow, what a nice piece of music.  Perfect for such a day.

With Lukas’s bio over at Facebook being in German, and us not speaking the language, there is not much that we can tell you about the man behind The Hangwallah.  Other than if Translate was effective, him being 35 years old, and this little snippet of text:

“...on many places and streets of this world, I was able to find out what a deep connectedness this sounded At the listeners. As something very deep in us would swing to swing.” - Lukas Zeller

And over at The Hangwallah Bandcamp page, fan of the album, Nick Schelvis, had the following to say:

“Not particularly a favourite track. I like them all very much! I enjoy most handpan music but this album truly takes me on a journey in the story the artist is trying to tell, which keeps having my interest and why i enjoy to keep listening to this album over and over again!”

And we agree, there’s a beauty to it.  And a purity.

So, if like us, you find yourself in sunny days.  With a glass of wine, or lemonade.  And an hour or so to kick-back and think of nothing.  To be carried away.

Hit play below...

For more you can find Lukas over at Facebook: HERE.  Or over at Bandcamp: HERE.

Mix the City - Creating Handpan Mix Music in Tel Aviv, Israel

Following up on our recent post on, Gioli - the electronic music mixing Handpan-playing DJ, we’re now going to introduce you (assuming that you’re not already familiar with it) to, “Mix the City”.  A website that allows you to create your own audio/visual music mixes, featuring musicians, and instruments from around the world (including the Hang/Handpan).  And this thing is tons of fun.

A British Council funded project that lets visitors not only tour and explore the musical identities of different cities via its motley crew of street performers.  Mix the City also allows users to become part of the experience - by providing functionality that goes beyond simply listening - granting users the ability to create their own mixes.  Combining drums, zithers, guitars, sitars, synths, singers, and more, from seven (and growing) inner-city soundscapes featuring local musicians.  And you can get some idea of what you can do with Mix the City in one of the many YouTube uploaded examples below...

Wanna play?  Here we'll link you through to Tel Aviv, in Israel.  Where you'll find a few snippets of Hang to play around with, along with a whole bunch of other musicians. And as stated above, there are also a growing number of other cities to sonically-explore.

Meet the Musicians

Each city section of the website features an area that introduces us to all of the featured musicians.  And from here we can learn that Mix the City's Hang-playing Tel Aviv local, is Liron Meyuhas.  Hang-musician, and vocalist.  Who you can hear performing as part of La Gitana Project, below...

Gioli - The DJ Versus the Handpan Instrument

We’ve used the “Versus” term somewhat inappropriately in post titles before, as we have again here (mainly because we like the sound of it).  But in reality, there is no conflict here.  But instead, the pleasant marriage of different musical ideas, and styles.  

When Gioli burst onto the Handpan scene, racking up over sixteen million views with her “first touch” Handpan video shared over at Facebook (with her Tzevaot brand of Handpan), it was clear that this was somebody who was going to be bringing something new. A DJ and composer with a strong background in electronic dance music, that runs evident throughout her Handpan compositions - with her over 600,000+ Facebook fans (at time of posting), Gioli wasn’t just introducing us long-time Handpan-fanatics to something a little bit fresh, but was also introducing a whole new genre of music fans to UFO-shaped singing steel. And you can take a listen to Gioli’s first full Handpan composition below, Echo of the Woods...

While Italy-born Gioli might specialise in Techno / Deep House dance music, in addition to having now added the Handpan to her repertoire, Gioli, also plays guitar, drums, and cello, and has been playing the piano since she was just eight years old.   She co-founded her own record label, #Diesis Records, that seeks to merge classical sounds, with house music vibes.  And in terms of deserving mad-props, as somebody involved heavily in the electronic music scene, Gioli, could have easily just acquired herself some Handpan samples to mix into her music, and be done with it. But she didn't. She goes hand-on-steel...

Find more from Gioli over at Facebook HERE.  Or find her at YouTube: HERE.

Ron Kravitz - The Man Who Brought the PANArt Hang to America

The story of the Handpan is littered with many notable figures.  From PANArt’s Felix Rohner, and Sabina Scharer (the Hang makers) themselves, who created the first Handpan-instruments. Through to Reto Weber, the man who first approached PANArt with the idea for the Hang. And Pantheon Steel's Kyle Cox, who first coined the name "Handpan", and was one of the first to market with a successful Hang-alternative. Among many others.

And in the interests of documenting the history of the Hang / Handpan, yet another character who played their part is the musician, Ron Kravitz.  Just as Ed Sullivan is credited as being the man who introduced The Beatles to the U.S.  Ron Kravitz, could be thought of as being the man who introduced the Hang to America. Serving between 2002, and 2007, as PANArt’s sole U.S. distributor (back when such things existed).

We’re not sure what the oldest Hang video on YouTube is - but the following video of Ron Kravitz demoing a PANArt Hang, from back in 2007 (over ten years old at time of posting), must certainly be a contender.  Having been uploaded one year before Manu Delago’s famous/infamous “Hang Drum Solo” video, one of the first (if not thee first) to go viral in a fairly big way (arguably popularising with it the "Hang drum" moniker that would later cause so much controversy).

Over the years that Ron served as PANArt’s sole distributor within the States, he was responsible to placing Hang in the hands of a number of much-loved Handpan musicians, including the unfortunately now departed legend of the instrument-type, Dante Bucci.  Who spoke of acquiring his first Hang from Ron, in this interview conducted with Dante, by fellow Handpan musician, turned-maker, Colin Foulke. Who, coincidentally, you can see playing Ron Kravitz’s personal Hang below…

And an informational/promotional flyer for the then recently invented Hang, believed to date from around 2003, produced by Ron Kravitz, can be seen pictured below-right (click to enlarge).

Ten years may now have passed since Ron Kravitz's distribution deal with PANArt came to an end.  Killing off the brief spring of Hang available and purchasable directly within the States, that flowed through his hands.  But as we can see in the following recent video from late 2016 - Ron Kravitz continues to play. And has even (along with collaborators) recorded a number of Hang music albums over the years. Including the 2004 released, Hang Meditations, and 2007's, Water Song. While also continuing to act as a distributor for a number of other musical instruments, including currently, Shruti Boxes, Rhythm Rings, and even the popular Handpan-esque style Rav Drum.

And Ron's current project, "Music in the Moment", provides a community music-making experience, including workshops, jam sessions, musical improvisation, and more... About which you can find more information over at Ron Kravitz's website: HERE

© HandPans Magazine