Hang – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Musical Instruments Glossary

What is a Hang?

The Hang is a musical instrument that falls under the category of idiophones, specifically classified as a type of steelpan. It is a hand-played percussion instrument that produces melodic and harmonic sounds. The Hang consists of two hemispherical shells of steel glued together at the rim, creating a resonant chamber. The top shell, called the Ding, has a center note hammered into it, surrounded by a number of tone fields. The bottom shell, known as the Gu, is left plain to allow for the resonance of the instrument. The Hang is played by striking the tone fields with the hands, producing a unique and ethereal sound.

How is a Hang played?

To play the Hang, the musician holds the instrument in their lap or on a stand and strikes the tone fields with their hands. Each tone field produces a distinct pitch, allowing the player to create melodies and harmonies. The Hang is played by tapping the tone fields with the fingertips or the heels of the hands, creating a percussive yet melodic sound. The musician can also use a combination of striking and damping techniques to produce a variety of tones and effects.

What are the origins of the Hang?

The Hang was created in 2000 by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer, two Swiss instrument makers who founded the company PANArt. The inspiration for the Hang came from the steelpan, a traditional instrument from Trinidad and Tobago. Rohner and Schärer sought to create a similar instrument that was more compact, portable, and versatile. The Hang quickly gained popularity among musicians and enthusiasts around the world for its unique sound and innovative design.

What are the different types of Hang drums?

There are several variations of the Hang drum, each with its own unique characteristics and sound. The original Hang, known as the Hang Bal, features a central note surrounded by seven to eight tone fields. The Hang Integral, introduced in 2006, has a larger diameter and a more complex layout of tone fields. The Hang Gudu, released in 2009, has a deeper and more resonant sound compared to the original Hang. Other variations include the Hang Urgu, Hang Gede, and Hang Pygmy, each with its own distinct tuning and tonal qualities.

How is a Hang different from other percussion instruments?

The Hang stands out from other percussion instruments due to its unique design and sound. Unlike traditional drums and cymbals, the Hang produces melodic and harmonic tones, allowing for the creation of intricate melodies and harmonies. The instrument’s resonant chamber and tone fields give it a rich and ethereal sound that is distinct from other percussion instruments. The Hang is also played by hand, rather than with sticks or mallets, allowing for a more intimate and expressive playing experience.

What are some famous musicians who play the Hang?

The Hang has gained popularity among musicians from a variety of genres, including world music, jazz, and ambient music. Some famous musicians who play the Hang include Manu Delago, a renowned Hang player and percussionist who has collaborated with artists such as Björk and Anoushka Shankar. Daniel Waples, another prominent Hang player, has gained a large following on social media for his captivating performances. Other notable Hang players include Dante Bucci, Matt Venuti, and Hang Massive, a duo known for their mesmerizing Hang performances. These musicians have helped to popularize the Hang and showcase its versatility as a musical instrument.