History of The Handpan

Handpan 9 Notes (D Minor) with Softcase and Cover Shell

The Handpan

If you have heard of Pantheon Steel, an America steel pan producer, you must have heard of the musical instrument called the handpan which has different scales and vibe of mystery to its tone.

The birth of the handpan

A musical instrument called Trinidad steel drum was first noticed in the whole of Europe in the ‘70s. The first or prominent player of this musical instrument is Felix Rohner; he played the Trinidad steel instrument for twenty years. However, he established his company (PanArt) in the year 1990. PanArt is a company known for creating dented musical instruments, and Sabrina Scharer became his business partner.

Reto Weber who is another steel drum enthusiast, met with the PanArt in India to learn how to play the steel drum with his hands; it was through this process, the handpan was created.

However, the name of the instrument was not initially recognized as the “handpan.” It was called the hang due to the Bernese German dialect which of course means hand.

In the year 2001, Felix and Sabrina officially presented the musical instrument in Germany (Frankfurt to be précised).

It led to the popularization of the hang instrument. However, the PanArt saw the instrument as an objet d’art, an artistic creation instead of something that can be easily around the world.

As a result of this, they did not mass produce the hang; the hang instrument was not available to all who wanted a piece of this incredible musical instrument.

In 2007, different versions began to erupt from the United States and Europe by the instrument makers. These versions became known as the handpan instead of “hang.”

What is the difference between the handpan and the hang?

The difference between the hangpan and the handpan is the makers; the hangs are created by the PanArt while several instruments create the hardpans.

Cultural heritage of the handpan

The handpan is a refined musical instrument of the hang by the PanArt which has different roots in the world; it is a beautiful instrument that is traceable to Udu in North Africa, Ghatam in India, Gamelan in Indonesia, Steel drum in Trinidad and Tobago

How to play the handpan

The best way to quickly understand the mystery behind this instrument and also knowing how to play it is through calmness; by shutting off everything that threatens your peace.

The handpan instrument requires a gentle touch; playing this beautiful instrument with anything but gentility cannot only bring out the worst sounds but will also interfere with the handpan tone negatively.

You can only get the best out of the handpan through soft and gentle touches.

Learning how to hit the handpan, is the foundation of creating beautiful sounds. Once this is done, the rest is easy.

Rules of playing the handpan

There is no strict rule in creating beautiful sounds from the handpan; pour your gentle soul in what you are playing and see how beautiful, the handpan interprets it.

If you get nervous, just remember that the handpan musical instrument is an intuitive instrument; you make the rules. Everybody can play the handpan even those without musical training.

Once you allow yourself to be creative with the handpan, you will be amazed by what you are capable of doing or performing. So what are you waiting for? Don’t be scared of playing the instrument.