Monday, August 29, 2011

Novel Music Tech #3: The musical flying saucer

     One day, I hope to own one of these!  It's a really cool instrument called a "Hang Drum."  It sounds and works similar to steel drums (see bottom of this entry) but instead of mallets, the softer, more rounded sound is made by the hands.  The instrument also has a nice, percussive element to it that makes it a great solo instrument as well as something to be included in an ensemble.

     These unique and rare instruments are actually products of the 21st century from Switzerland of all places (which also happens to be, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful places in the world).  Very few are in circulation, and even with the wonders of the Internet, obtaining one is an ordeal and an expensive one at that!  However, the sounds are beautiful.  

     There are alternatives however, the Hapi Drum being one.  It works similar to African thumb pianos sans the plucked sound and the added element of that metallic percussion sound.  

     If you're looking for something closer to the real thing, a US based company called Pantheon Steel offer their Halo Drums (link).  These are made to order, so you've got to really want it and know what you want, but as popularity (and with it, demand) of these instruments increases, I'm sure more and more avenues will open up.  Now, I might be underestimating the versatility of this instrument, but I wonder if the mainstream-ization of the hang drum and saturation would reduce this to nothing more than a novelty item.  

     That said, to close, here's a video of some enthusiastic steel drummers to leave you on a good note (so to speak).

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