Hang Drum – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Musical Instruments Glossary

What is a Hang Drum?

A Hang Drum, also known as a Hang, is a musical instrument that belongs to the idiophone family. It is a type of handpan that produces melodic and soothing sounds when struck with the hands. The instrument consists of two hemispheres made of metal, typically steel, that are glued together. The top side of the Hang Drum has a center note surrounded by several tone fields, which are responsible for producing different pitches when struck. The bottom side of the instrument usually has a resonant hole to enhance the sound.

History of the Hang Drum

The Hang Drum was created by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer, two Swiss instrument makers, in the year 2000. The name “Hang” is derived from the Bernese German word for “hand.” The instrument was inspired by the steelpan and the Ghatam, traditional percussion instruments from Trinidad and India, respectively. The creators aimed to design an instrument that was easy to play and produced a unique, ethereal sound. The Hang Drum gained popularity quickly and has since been used in various musical genres, including world music, ambient, and meditation.

How is a Hang Drum played?

Playing the Hang Drum involves striking the tone fields with the hands or fingers. The player can produce different pitches and rhythms by varying the intensity and location of the strikes. The instrument is typically played in a seated position, with the Hang Drum resting on the player’s lap or on a stand. The sound produced by the Hang Drum is rich and resonant, creating a calming and meditative atmosphere. Advanced players can incorporate techniques such as finger rolls, taps, and slaps to create complex and dynamic melodies.

Different types of Hang Drums

There are several variations of the Hang Drum available on the market, each with its unique design and sound characteristics. Some popular types of Hang Drums include the original Hang, the Halo, the Spacedrum, and the Rav Vast. The original Hang Drum has a distinct UFO-like shape with a central note and tone fields arranged in a circular pattern. The Halo is a newer version of the Hang Drum with a more traditional handpan shape and a wider range of notes. The Spacedrum features a deeper and more resonant sound compared to the Hang, making it suitable for playing in larger spaces. The Rav Vast is a steel tongue drum that is similar to the Hang Drum but with a simpler design and a wider range of notes.

Popular Hang Drum players

Several musicians have gained recognition for their skillful and emotive performances on the Hang Drum. Some notable Hang Drum players include Daniel Waples, Manu Delago, and Dante Bucci. Daniel Waples, also known as “Hang in Balance,” is a British musician who has garnered a large following on social media for his captivating Hang Drum performances. Manu Delago, an Austrian percussionist, has collaborated with renowned artists such as Björk and Anoushka Shankar, showcasing the versatility of the Hang Drum in various musical contexts. Dante Bucci, an American musician, is known for his innovative playing techniques and soulful compositions on the Hang Drum.

Maintenance and care tips for a Hang Drum

Proper maintenance and care are essential to ensure the longevity and optimal performance of a Hang Drum. Here are some tips to keep your instrument in top condition:
– Store the Hang Drum in a dry and cool place to prevent rust and corrosion.
– Clean the instrument regularly with a soft cloth to remove dust and dirt.
– Avoid exposing the Hang Drum to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight, as this can damage the metal.
– Use padded mallets or your hands to play the Hang Drum gently, avoiding excessive force.
– If the instrument goes out of tune, consult a professional tuner or instrument maker for adjustments.

In conclusion, the Hang Drum is a unique and versatile instrument that has captured the hearts of musicians and listeners around the world. With its enchanting sound and meditative qualities, the Hang Drum continues to inspire creativity and musical exploration. Whether you are a seasoned player or a curious beginner, the Hang Drum offers a rewarding and immersive musical experience.