Do You Cringey-Face? - Making Weird Faces While Playing Music

In a recent video uploaded to YouTube (unfortunately now removed) featuring the unboxing of a brand new Handpan, the YouTuber explained that, “...I'm only gonna show my hands, don’t like cringey face...”. Highlighting a common problem likely suffered by many Handpan’ers (including us) - the urge to distort one's face into all manner of unusual and not normally exhibited facial-gymnastics, and expressions, while playing Handpan. Or as the aforementioned YouTuber put it more simply, “...that cringey face…”.

And it certainly isn’t a phenomenon associated only with the Handpan. Whether you play the piano, the violin, or perhaps most frequently commented upon, the guitar, cringe-face appears to be the curse of musicians across all musical-borders. Affecting some more than others. And while we wouldn't be cruel enough to compile our own compilation of cringey-faced Handpan’ers, you can get the general idea from the compilation below of guitarists showing off their best “guitar faces”.

Perhaps this is the real reason that so many Handpan musicians only show videos of their hands flying across the surface of their instruments.  Could the likes of Adrian J Portia be pulling mad-grimaces just out of camera view?

And while we stated above that we would never be cruel enough to highlight any specific examples of cringey-face within the Handpan community (psyke), hopefully Ravid Goldschmidt won't mind too much, if in exchange for a little extra free advertising (GO BUY AN OVAL!) we share the following video - which is not only one of our favourite Hang performances ever, but also goes some way to proving the correlation between the beauty of any particular piece, and the near-ecstatic facial expressions sometimes exhibited by the player(s) performing it...

How to Stop Cringey-Face

Should you be self-conscious as to your cringey-face when performing - borrowing from a suggestion on a similar post found over at practising and performing in front of a mirror is said to help.  Allowing you not only to study and perhaps learn to control the offending facial expressions.  But it is also said to relieve some of the inner-tensions caused by over-concentration; that are thought to lead to the exhibiting of funny-faces in the first place.

Alternatively, you may well be better off embracing and learning to love your oft-wild facial-manifestations, agonised snarls, wide-eyed orgasmic joy, and all.  Taking comfort in the fact that as long as those listening to your performance aren't making cringey-faces of their own - then things could definitely be worse.

Steel Monkey Sound Sculptures - From Russia With Monkey-Love

While the Handpan instruments of Steel Monkey Sound Sculptures might not be as large, or indeed ferocious, as the giant steel-made "Robot-Kong", from the movie, King Kong Escapes. Should you ever find your home-land terrorized by an oversized, and very ticked-off giant gorilla - instead of building yourself a metal-monkey of epic-proportions with which to battle him to the death, you may well fare better by grabbing yourself one of the sweet-sounding singing-steel UFOs of Steel Monkey Sound Sculptures, and attempting to lull said Kong into a more passive and relaxed state instead.  Serenading and soothing the beast...

Based in Russia, the Steel Monkey Sound Sculptures team consists of Roman Elizarjev and Vitaliy 'IVA' Ivanov.  Two self-described Pantam-enthusiasts turned makers - the Steel Monkey guys are students of Anton Zakharov of Siberia Sound Sculptures.  And have also been working with, or at least obtaining materials (presumably shells) from the SPB crew, headed by Victor Levinson - which demonstrates some serious pedigree right out of the gates.  And you can listen to the Steel Monkey team's most recent offering below...

For more information on Steel Monkey Sound Sculptures, you can find them over at Facebook: HERE.

Inside the PanMagination of Chris Ng - Handpan Art and T-Shirt Designs

Whether simply an admirer of Handpan-themed art, or you’re actively on the lookout for some new Handpan-adorned threads with which to snazz-up your wardrobe - you might enjoy joining us on this brief journey, into the Handpan-centric imaginings of Hong-Kong based artist and designer, Chris Ng.

We’ve stumbled across some interesting Handpan art over the years, such as the Hangism works of AoxoA, and the t-shirt designs of the Charlatan Crew (to name just a couple).  And the curious Handpan-art offerings of Chris Ng add well to this rich tapestry - and are among the most intriguing we’ve yet explored...

From Handpan-airships, to Handpan space-vessels.  Ladies pregnant with Handpan-offsrping, and Handpan-hearts (of the non Valentines day kind).  The arts, stories, sketches, and imaginations of Chris Ng are sure to delight fans of the Handpan (or "Pantam", as Chris prefers to call it) in this world, and in world's both real and imagined beyond...

And to view more of Chris's work (or even to purchase a t-shirt displaying his art) you can find him over at Facebook: HERE.

Pantam Stands - A Handpan Stand by Any Other Name

For those who don’t know, “Pantam”, is essentially an alternative name used by some for the Handpan-family of instruments. Said to be a combination of the words, “Pan”, and “Ghatam”, the Pantam moniker is believed to have first been used in Israel, as an alternative name for the Hang instruments of PANArt, back in the early years. But has now been adopted to some degree in the wider context. So when, with this post, we take a look at the newly offered up Pantam stands of Thomas and Avigdor Ben Tov from Avi Ot Woodcrafts, for our needs here at HPM, you can translate these as being Handpan stands.

The culmination of two years of work and experimentation, these Pantam stands are described as being a: 'Revolutionary, lightweight, foldable playing stand, designed especially for handpans and tongue drums.'  And we've got to admit, that just like the proverbial rose - they do seem pretty sweet.  Check out the official launch video below...

Pantam stands allow playing while both standing up and sitting down, and make it easy to combine multiple Pantams together.  And are said to be very stable, simple to use, and super portable.  The Pantam stands are fast to setup and makes it easy to switch between standing and sitting playing positions. And each Pantam stand ships with a custom case and an adjustable carrying strap.

For more information and/or to make a purchase you can find them for sale via the official website: HERE.  Or via Italy-based Handpan case and accessories stockist Hardcase Technologies: HERE.

Enter the Dojo - Online Handpan Instruction and Courses with David Kuckhermann

Earlier in the year we took a brief look at a couple of other online Handpan schools, including, by David Charrier. And in a similar vein with this post, we’ll be directing your attentions towards the "Handpan Dojo" - a collection of online instructional Handpan courses put together by top-notch Handpan musician, and instructor, David Kuckhermann. That offers a web-based course for beginners to the instrument-type, and a second course offering more advanced techniques (with possibly more to come).

David Kuckhermann has been a familiar face in the Handpan-world for many years now (and in the wider world of world-percussion). His album "The Path of the Metal Turtle" remains a popular favourite.  And the series of instructional DVDs put out in conjunction with fellow Handpan-mainstay, Colin Foulke, back in 2012, were a well-received first of their kind. With the Handpan Dojo walking a similar (but new and updated) path, while also making the content more conveniently (and immediately) available via online streaming.

And for a little taste of the flow of the Dojo's direction, you can watch an introductory video below...

'Now climb, young grasshopper, so your Kung-Fu won't be weak'.

Ready to enter the Dojo - in search of further information, or to begin your training?  Then roundhouse-kick your way on over to HERE.

The Booty-Tap-Mallet-Lever-Thingamajigs of Nakayama Daisuke

Here at HPM, as with the Gu Boosters, GuSkin, PanHook, and HandClap type gizmos of recent times - if you can clip it to, shove it in, wrap it around, or essentially attach your new invention to a Handpan in any way, shape, or form - we’ll probably be interested in taking a look at it.

And while most of the aforementioned Handpan accessories bring additional sonic qualities to Handpan-play, like the PanHook, the booty-tap mallet lever system (for lack of a better name) recently invented by Japanese Handpan musician, Nakayama Daisuke, is a device that addresses a more practical problem.

With the growing number of Handpan now featuring bottom notes, often called "Booty Taps", which while great for increasing the range of a Handpan, some may find them awkward to activate. Which is where Nakayama Daisuke's invention, complete with what appears to be a small yellow rubber tortoise, comes in. With its intended purpose being to make those "hard to reach areas" (at the risk of sounding like some kind of toiletries commercial), easier to play. Through the use of its lever/mallet system. And while not speaking Japanese we have very little idea of what is being said in the follwing video, a translation of the description reads as follows:

'I made a mallet for hitting the Tonefield on the back of the handpan. Recently, there are more ones on the back of the hand pan with Tonefield. But, is not it hard for you to hit the back! What? So I tried to make a mallet for hitting the back side.'

And whether these are, or will be at a later date, available commercially, we’re not sure. But if this seems like something that you might be interested in learning more about - we recommend subscribing to Nakayama Daisuke's YouTube channel: HERE.

The World's Smallest Steel Tongue Drum? - Pocket-Sized Singing-Steel

While these may not be actual Handpan, it has to be said, that sometimes, carrying a full-size Handpan around with you, can be a bit of a pain in the bum.  And should you be heading to a location where the idea of carrying your Handpan with you is unbearable, or for other reasons, impractical, or impossible, but you might still like to play a little melodic steel once you’re there - the following teeny-tiny pocket-sized steel tongue drum, just might present one (if only temporary quick-fix) solution to the problem. Or perhaps they'll find merit with you as a complimentary or standalone instrument in their own right.

WuYou 3" Steel Tongue Drums

We've been curious as to what these tiny little steel tongue drum listed for sale at ETSY (pictured above-right) sound like for a little while, but could find no video/audio samples listed on the site. And while a good rummage around the internet failed to turn up much, we did discover a couple of (very) short sound sample videos over at YouTube that demo their sound...

The World’s Smallest Steel Tongue Drum?

Back in 2012 we discovered the Micro6 steel tongue drum from Japanese maker, Cimantone (video below)...  

Which until now, to our knowledge, reigned supreme as the world’s smallest functional singing-steel UFO.  But with its width of 3.5 inches, it looks like the even smaller WuYou mini, with a width of just 3 inches, has the Micro6 beat - in terms of pocket-friendliness. While even managing to squeeze in one additional note.

And while the sounds of both of these miniature honorary-family-members might sound quite distinct from those of an actual Handpan - they are not without their own charms. And to conclude this post, you can listen to one final short video of what are seemingly now the new record holders of the title of "The World's Smallest Steel Tongue Drum", below...

Before moving on over to ETSY for more information, and/or to make a purchase, should you so wish to do so.

Videos of the Week, and then Some - with Jeremy Nattagh

We briefly mentioned Handpan-artist, Jeremy Nattagh, in our last post titled “The Hanpan Meets Johann Sebastian Bach”, highlighting the work of fellow TwinPan band-mate, Laurent Sureau.  And with this post we’d like to take a closer look at the offerings of Jeremy himself.  

At the beginning of the year we made ourselves the new-years resolution to make greater efforts to showcase some of those we consider to be the finest artists out there in Handpan-land - especially those who do not always get the recognition that they rightfully deserve.  And in that regard we have somewhat failed. Which is something that we hope to make amends for with this post - by shining a spotlight on one of those “must subscribe to” Handpan-performers - for those who appreciate and enjoy truly exceptional Handpan music…

We featured an example of one of Jeremy’s more outlandish video performances in our post on EXTREME Handpan’ing earlier in the year, which are always worth a look (and we have it on good authority that there is more of that to come in the very near future) - but when it comes to the music of Jeremy Nattagh, you may well come for the novelty, but you'll stay for the remarkable talent, and the truly beautiful compositions that Jeremy weaves from these steel UFOs that we, and presumably those reading this website, love so much. Many notable examples of which can be heard by listening to Jeremy's "Video of the Week" series...

And if you haven’t already rushed on over to subscribe to Jeremy’s YouTube channel, we’ll conclude this post with one final offering with which to tempt you to do so...

To learn more about Jeremy Nattagh you can visit him over at his official website: HERE. Or follow him over at Facebook: HERE.

The Handpan Meets Johann Sebastian Bach - with Laurent Sureau

For those unfamiliar, Johann Sebastian Bach, was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period (1600 to 1750). He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Brandenburg Concertos and the Goldberg Variations, and vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach Revival he has been generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.

A revival that continues with recent performances from Handpan-musician, Laurent Sureau.  Who in addition to boasting one of the most impressive Handpan set-ups we’ve yet stumbled across - has been busy bringing some of Bach's most beautiful compositions; into the steel-age. Such as the following classical arrangement for the Handpan, of Bach's, Prelude MWV 846 - the first prelude and fugue in the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier, a series of 48 preludes and fugues by the composer...

Laurent grew up in a musical family and his passion for music started early. He began learning piano at the age of 6, then expanded his range of skills by studying percussion: classic and contemporary first (timpani, vibraphone, etc.), then drums from various continents (congas, Cajon, West African balafon) and drums, chromatic balafon, and of course, the Hang/Handpan.

And in addition to a variety of other outfits, Laurent performs alongside fellow Handpan-composer, Jeremy Nattagh, as one-half of the also quite exceptional, TwinPan. And you can hear another of Laurent Sureau's Handpan renditions of a Johann Sebastian Bach classic, this time in the form of PRELUDE-SUITE for Cello N°1- G Maj" BWV 1007, below...

To hear more from Laurent Sureau, you can visit him over at his official website: HERE.  Or you can find him over at YouTube: HERE.

Handpan - and the Panopticon Connection

Chances are if you watched Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie (the first one), you’ll have some idea of what a “Panopticon” is (see picture right). First imagined by English philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, a Panopticon is a kind of prison, within which the cells are constructed in a circle, built around one central surveillance platform. The scheme of the design is to allow all (pan-) inmates of an institution to be observed (-opticon) by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all the inmates' cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that they are incentivized to act as though they are being watched at all times.  Effectively compelling the inmates to constantly control their own behavior.

And despite first being devised purely as a thought experiment, a number of Panopticon-style detention-centres were constructed based upon the concept, including the “Presidio Modelo”, in Cuba, a Panopticon famous for the fact that it once housed communist revolutionary, Fidel Castro.  And the name Panopticon itself, is in reference to “Panoptes” of Greek mythology, who was a giant with a hundred eyes.

And likely you've already spotted where we going with this, in terms of the similarities between the Handpan's architecture, and the Panopticons. With the Handpan's notes being positioned around the central note, or Ding, in a similar manner to the Panopticon's cells. Something presumably not lost on Saraz Handpan's Mark Garner, and E.W. Harris, who chose the name for the second track on their ReEntry album...

And additionally there is a Handpan-specific events-organising company based in London, UK - that also names itself Panopticon.

Top down view of a Panopticon.
So we have "Pan" in the name, and the visual imagery is also strong. But there are still further similarities between these two seemingly far-removed objects and entities that strengthen the connection between them. That can be found within the sonic qualities of both.

In the book, Prison and Jail Administration: Practice and Theory. The authors explain that:

'...built with concrete or masonry, furnished with steel bunks and secured with steel cell fronts, the panopticon has extremely high normal, or ambient, noise levels because of reverberation and echoes within its hard walls. The circular plan shape, which generates the drum-shaped building, is a natural sound amplifier. Given the normal activity in a prison housing unit (e.g. talking, showering, closing doors, doing janitorial work), the ambient noise level in a panopticon at midday is so amplified by its shape that normal conversation sounds like shouting...'.

Operating in the same manner the Handpan's internal echo-chamber works to amplify its own sound.

Thus cementing the connection between the Handpan and the Panopticon forever - if only in some weird symbolic esoteric kind of way...

The Handpan Gets All Sexy - With OlyasDream

Cards on the table, here at HPM - we’re not big Instagram users, and still aren’t entirely sure of its purpose.  Television has led us to believe that it’s a place to post photographs of yourself looking all sexy and stuff - and we’re just not attractive enough for that ourselves. But when an Instagram Queen starts sharing somewhat unique Handpan videos over at YouTube, you can be sure that we’re going to sit-up, and start paying attention.  

In terms of the erotic or raunchy, the Handpan hasn’t had too much exposure to date.  The much-loved Yuki Koshimoto is frequently described as being the “sexy hang drum girl” (or titles to that effect) over at YouTube.  Porn Star CherryCrush, is known to play some singing-steel. And more recently, some of the videos of Gioli, have brought a pop-esque tantalising quality to the world of Handpan. But pushing the boat a little further still into the realms of the risqué, if you enjoy your Handpan videos with the occasional Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct moment - Olya's "Dreaming Baby", is a video that just might find favour with you...

With 2,155 (and counting) Instagram followers Olya describes herself as a creator of magic: art and design. Emotional dream traveller.  And sound of the future.  And while we suspect that her performances might entice mixed reactions from within the core Handpan-community - there is no denying that here is a woman who has taken the Handpan, and is very much walking her own path with it.

And if one video of a semi-clad gyrating Olya just wasn't enough for you - Olya's offering of "Sunrise Magic" - may go some way to placating your appetites...

If you’d like to hear more from OlyasDream (or perhaps have been struggling to find the right toner), you can subscribe to her YouTube channel: HERE.  Or if you are more interested in the pictures, you can follow Olya over at Instagram: HERE.

The Handpan Meets the Water Drums - With AKI-RA Sunrise

Custom-made water drum available for sale at ETSY
Flowing onward from our last post regarding the effects the sounds of the Handpan may have upon the water molecules that in part make up your being, we visit the work of AKI-RA, and the fortuitous meeting of the Handpan, and the water-drum...

Instruments of the “membranophone” family, water drums are usually constructed from wood, clay, or gourds - though water drum made of metals such as iron, brass, and copper, are also fairly common - and the chamber of the drum is filled with water, or some other kind of liquid, to create their unique resonant sound. As can be heard and seen in the particularly interesting water drum set-up of the Japanese percussionist, Aki-Ra Sunrise...

One interesting aspect of the water drums of Aki-Ra, in the video above, uploaded five years ago, back when Hang/Handpan were much newer, and hence far more difficult to acquire - is the way in which the metallic bowled water drums have been shaped DIY-style into a Handpan-esque form, in order to create different tones.

During those dark days of high-demand and extremely limited-supply, many creative types explored numerous ways of attempting to recreate the sounds, or playing-style of the Handpan, in a more budget-friendly manner. From the Hank drums of Dennis Havlena (and other interesting homemade instruments), and the homemade electronic Handpan substitutes of Al Martino. Through to the more recent addition of the soda-pop bottle Hang-drums, of Edward Black Rose. And while we can't say with certainty, perhaps the early water drum setup of Aki-Ra; was also a product of those times.

What we can say with absolute certainty however, is that five years later, Aki-Ra is still very much playing water drum, and in fact, his kit has even evolved to include even more mini-handpan type water drums. In addition to which, we can finally witness the water drums of Aki-Ra Sunrise, paired with a honest-and-kosher Handpan - with beautiful results...

And before moving on, you can listen to one final performance from Aki-Ra on one of his self-made Handpan-style-hybrid-water-drums, or "Hadouram", below...

To catch more from Aki-Ra Sunrise, you can find him over at his official website: HERE.

The sounds of the Handpan - And the way they may make you feel at a molecular level...

Water molecules purportedly affected by emotional states
If you caught our recent post on the best UFO movies ever, you might have gathered that here at HPM we’re big fans of the otherworldly. And within that context, one of our favourite YouTube channels is SecureTeam10.  And while we’re not going to go any further down the extraterrestrial-road here (at least not for now), they did recently share a video that we think might be of interest to our readers (which we’ll share below).  Titled: “Proof your thoughts can alter physical reality”.  

We’ve touched upon the science of “Cymantics” in a post before.  Documenting the effects that the sounds of the Handpan can have upon water molecules - with quite beautiful results...

However, with this post we wanted to take a look at this phenomenon in a more general way, by exploring the work of Dr. Masuru Emoto.  And his experiments that appear to prove that human consciousness could affect the molecular structure of water and that water could take on the “resonance” of the energy directed at it - as featured in his book "The Hidden Messages in Water".   And with the average human body being made up of roughly 55-60% water, if true, Dr. Emoto's work certainly goes some way to giving scientific credence to the belief held by some that Handpan have a certain "healing" quality to them. And in lieu of excessive and needless words from ourselves, here's Tyler from SecureTeam10; to explain further...

And to conclude this post, if you'd like to learn more about the visible effects of the sounds and vibrations of the Handpan upon water (and most likely you also), you can check out our older post: What does the sound of a Handpan look like?.  Or perhaps our post on: The moods and emotions of different musical keys. And on the off-chance that you might be having a rubbish kind of day, week, month, year, or life - and be in need of a little good-vibes injection yourself. To paraphrase the words of Evie Hammond:

"...even though we do not know you, and even though we may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, we love you. With all our heart - WE LOVE YOU!"

© HandPans Magazine