Handpan Makers United - Seeking to Protect the Handpan(?)

We’ve been receiving a lot of news updates this past week or so from U.S Handpan makers, Pantheon Steel.  Their new generation of Halo are now hitting the market, and they also released word that they were generously offering up a new building technique that they’d developed to the public, free-and-gratis.  But arguably, it is their most recent announcement, regarding the formation of an association calling themselves, “Handpan Makers United”, that has been the most interesting.  

Handpan Makers United is seemingly a coalition of prominent names, and organisations from within the world of Handpan, from respected makers, through to festival organisers, players, and those in the accessories market.  And their recently published mission statement describes their grouping as follows:

‘Advocates for protection and cultivation of the global tuned steel community through spread of truthful information, collaboration, camaraderie and free creative expression within the Handpan Art form.’

Reading through their mission statement further, and a key part of their plans appear to be aimed at the dissemination of ‘helpful building practices’, with some of the key-players within this newly formed super-group, such as Pantheon Steel, and Saraz, in particular, having already shared an abundance of useful information, images, and instructionals, between them, online, and off. So for those in the building-game, or considering getting into it, this is a resource that is likely to be carved out of solid-gold.  With the Handpan building references section already containing a wealth of useful and interesting links through which to browse.

However...

Outside of that, there are some slightly worrying aspects to the association's mission statement, for our personal tastes (whatever they’re worth) - with words and phrases such as “protection”, and “spread of truthful information” being littered throughout it.  

As a general rule, whenever somebody offers to sell us the "truth", we usually ask first, “whose?”. And with the Handpan now having reached its late-teens, and seemingly having done pretty well for itself thus far - sprouting off here, and budding off there; in a very natural way, to create the vibrant and varied world that it already has around itself - you kind of have to ask yourself - is the Handpan really in need of protection, and if so, from whom?  PANArt (The Hang-makers) themselves have been trying to exhibit post-sale control over how their own creations are perceived, and played for years, with (arguably) very limited results.  They are well-known to have become hugely protective of their own intellectual-property in recent years - yet for a hundred Euro a time, you can pretty much slap their brand-name over whatever the hell you like (or thereabouts).  

A quick look through the founding-members of the United Handpan Makers reveals no real surprises - being primarily made-up of established, already interconnected, U.S.-based makers, with a strong “community” ethos.  Combine that with the facts that the likes of Tzevaot presumably found their invitations to join lost in the mail, and that individuals usually don’t feel the need to combine, and to consolidate power and influence, without a very specific agenda to push - and it doesn’t feel like too much of a stretch to imagine that we might be seeing certain instruments tagged with the coveted (and self-regulated?) "United Handpan Makers Approved" stamp, in the near-to-distant future...

Regardless though, and whatever should become of this league of united Handpan makers, and co. they are almost certainly worth a follow over at Facebook - and a browse of their website - where likely you will find treasure (and possibly a little propaganda) awaiting you.

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