Revisiting the Hang!

The Hang, by PanArt.

Here are a few of several responses that we received to last issue's Hang (drum) article:

Using Kalimba and HAPI Drum:

Monika from Poland is getting an E minor pentatonic HAPI drum and wondered what she would have to do to make her Alto Kalimba work with this scale.

"...I discovered kalimbas and the hang drum for myself about a half a year ago and I fell in love with them both... From the very first time I heard them separately, I thought they could go together with each other very well and now you confirm it!"

Dear Monika,

The G major scale (the standard tuning on the Alto and Treble kalimba) is actually the same as the E minor scale -- well, they are different scales, but they are made up of the exact same notes, just starting from a different place:

     G A B C D E F# G
E F# G A B C D E

Now, the regular E minor scale is 7 notes (repeat the starting E to make 8), and the E minor pentatonic is a 5 note subset of those 7 - removing any note that is ony a half step away from another note:

E F# G A B C D E   <== your kalimba does this already
E    G A B   D E  <== your E minor Pentatonic HAPI drum will do this

SO, even though the two instruments don't have a note-for-note match, they are totally compatible. The HAPI drum will just emphasize certain notes on your kalimba. A very happy accident.

Monika, I hope this helps you understand how these two instruments will be able to sing together.

- Mark

Corrections from Hang Expert Kosta Gaitanis

Kosta Gaitanis writes:

The reason I allow myself to correct some things you wrote in the newsletter is because I have been following the hang history since about 4 years. I ordered a hang about a year and a half ago (thus have been in contact with the hangmakers) and know all about the procedure of buying one and it's exact price. I haven't yet got my hang, but I just received mail from Sabina telling me it will arrive next week.

The first hang drums (versions of 1999) had about 50 different ethnic scales, but little by little the hangmakers removed several tunings because they were not completely harmonic with the hang's fundamental frequency. A few years later only 19 tunings were available, and the last version of the hang drum (the Integral hang as they call it, version 2007-08) is only available.

The hangmakers, decided to follow a different technique for tuning the hang drum. All the basic notes are tuned to the hang's fundamental frequency (the ding). In order to get more notes out of a single instrument, the hangmakers fine-tuned the sphere of each note to make it also reproduce the octave and the compound fifth of the note, depending on where the hand hits the sphere. This way the basic 7 notes are multiplied by 3 and we have 21 different notes on each hang. Together with the ding this totals 22 notes making the hang capable of playing very complex music.

Hangs are difficult to get, but only because they require a lot of patience (about one year, maybe a little more). There is no such thing as "screening." Anybody can get a hang. You do not have to travel to Switzerland either, you can order a hang by sending a letter to the hangmakers. As for the price, it is true that some hangs have been resold on eBay for 5 or 6000 dollars which is excessive. But this is mere speculation. The true price of the integral hang (version 2007-2008) is exactly 1360€ shipping and insurance included. Since the hangs are quite rare (in the sense that there aren't much of them in the world), the hangmakers decided to make each hang buyer sign a contract which forbids them from reselling a hang at a price higher than the price they bought it. This way the hang gets out of the free market and its price is solely fixed by the hangmakers. Moreover, anybody wishing to sell a hang he previously bought has to tell the hangmakers. The hangmakers have the right to decide to buy any hang that is for sale, at the original purchase price, limiting any speculation. It is normal not to find any hangs on eBay, because it would not comply with the contract every hang owner has signed.

I recommend you check this hang blog to learn more. The information you find in this blog comes from direct conversations between the blogger and the hangmakers and is always up to date.

Best regards,
Kosta (owner of 2 kalimbas, future owner of a hang, at last!)

More Corrections from Saggio

Hi, Mark. Was fun to see the hang covered in your newsletter. For future reference the hang makers never call their creation a hang drum. They refer to the hang as a Sound Sculpture. In their mind the hang is not to be beat upon or banged, but caressed. The sound is designed to be coaxed from the instrument. Beating and banging will quickly render the hang out of tune.

All those world scales are no longer being made by PanArt. But Pantheon Steel in Missouri will be releasing their own version called the Halo Hand Pan. First scale offered will be the Ake Bono. Other world scales will be available in the future. Ake Bona will be released New Years Day and will cost about $1600.

Very cool that you are offering hang scales in kalimba. Great idea!


Ps. 3 hangs have sold for more than $10,000 each on ebay.

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