Internet Fuels Hang Drum Sensation

A percussion instrument, dubbed the Hang Drum (Pronounced “Hung” —Ed.) is quickly becoming an internet sensation. Created in 2000 by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer of the PANArt Company from Bern, Switzerland, the Hang is the result of many years of research on the steel drum (also called the Pan) and many other resonating percussion instruments from around the world. In the Bernese language, Hang refers to the human hand, as in “hand-drum.”

The Hang is a very simple instrument with a haunting organic sound. It is comprised of two gas-nitrided steel hemispheres bonded together, the Ding side and the Gu side.
The Ding dome has 8 tone fields which together form the “tone circle” scale. It looks like a Steel Drum turned upside down. The Gu side has a bass port, which is reminisant of a Udu drum, which can be played by slapping your palm over the hole, or used to bend the sound when playing the Ding side.

If you don’t mind the constant din of crickets, Randy Granger, a musician from New Mexico, USA, has filmed a video giving you a basic background of the instrument…

Each Hang is tuned individually, and the creators encourage the buyer to customize their own “tone circle,” or what PANArt calls the “mode.” There are many ways to play the instrument, like a conga with your hands, or with just your fingers and thumbs. In fact, there is no formal way of playing the unique instrument and most musicians develop their own Hang vocabulary.

For electronic musicians, the Hang Drum has incredible potential…

The official Hang site is dead, and there’s no real information on purchasing one of these dynamic instruments except for hunting one down on eBay. However, there’s several fan sites out there (see below), so if you need to get your Hang on, then there are several resources online. Although, the “gas-nitrided steel” action sounds complicated, this is not something that can’t be recreated by another craftsman.

We’d love to see Richard Waters, inventor of the Waterphone, tackle this endeavor. The Waterphone, which has been around for far longer than the Hang, uses two hemispheres, tuned brass rods and chimney-like port. You pour a small amount of distilled water into the port, which enables you to psychedelically bend the haunting sound — a sound that can be heard on basically every horror movie soundtrack in existence. In fact, if Waters could incorporate his water effect into the Hang design, it would be insane!!

More information on the Hang Drum.

Author: FutureMusic

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