Hang Drum

The hang drum looks a bit like a flying saucer from some ’60s science fiction B-movie. But it does sound very nice. While the clip is loading, read below the fold about the hang drum.

A hang (pronounced ‘hung’ or ‘hong’) is a melodious percussive musical instrument, similar to a steel drum. It uses many of the same physical principles to operate. However, since it is struck with the fingers, the sound is generally much softer than a steel drum, and can be played in many ways to produce a large variety of sounds.

The instrument is also frequently called a hang drum, because of the nature in which it is played, its relation to the steel drum, and its popularity with hand drummers.

The hang is typically played resting on the players’ lap, and can also be played on a stand. It was the result of many years of research on the steelpan and the study of the diverse collection of instruments from around the world, such as gongs, gamelan, ghatam, drums, bells, etc. Udu-like sounds can be produced with the air resonance within the clamped shallow shells, with the notes sounding like bells or harmonically tuned steelpans.

The inner note on the bottom dome is the bass note, and when played in a dampened way allows change in pitch like a talking drum. Seven to nine notes are tuned harmonically around a central deep note. The hemispheres are hardened by a process known as gas-nitriding.

The hang made its debut at Musikmesse Frankfurt in 2001. Its design is attributed to the instrument builders Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer.

Its name comes from the Berne dialect word for hand.

[Source: Wikipedia on the Hang Drum.]

On Davide Swarup’s page, I found another piece on the hang drum. It is called “Moods: An Opening.” You can download that piece. While there you should also listen to a Santoor piece called Improvisations, which is also downloadable.

And talking of B-movies, check out the Invasion of the Star Creatures at B-movie Central.

8 thoughts on “Hang Drum

  1. Tarun Singh Sunday May 13, 2007 / 6:18 pm

    Sounds similar to the sound created using an earthen pot. Check out Zakir Hussain’s “Maikig Music”.

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  2. Shivani Sunday May 13, 2007 / 8:25 pm

    Felt like learning to play it – after watching the video 🙂 Sounds good.

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  3. Jayant Monday May 14, 2007 / 9:35 am

    Hello Atanu–

    Some very interesting observations on these pages (at least on the ones that I perused).

    A couple of questions, out of curiosity (and these are nothing but questions; they are not to be construed as accusations), and the questions are: How well do you know the history of Europe? And the history of India? (15th c. onwards. Pre-Vasco, too.) Engineers and doctors from India are, on the whole, not very familiar with history. It is a vast (and vastly important) subject, with implications to most everything you write about in these pages.

    Where, in your opinion, does America’s–and EU’s–current relationship with India fit on the arc of East-West history?

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  4. Barry Leneman Saturday July 14, 2007 / 1:10 am

    Would love to play and own one the Hang drums. Can you tell me where to find one?
    Thank you,
    Barry

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  5. Joanna Monday October 15, 2007 / 5:10 pm

    Hi,
    I’m really interested in getting hold of one of these instruments but cannot seem to find the email address of Sabina Scharer and Felix Rohner – is it them I need to contact? I have been working with a Taoist monk for the past twelve years and he has expressed a strong interest in using one of these new instruments for reaching the inner layers of the self. We have had much success with singing bowls and would definitely like to try using one of these. Please contact me on atmodisha @yahoo.co.uk.
    Thanks for your help
    Joanna

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