The creation of the Hang was the result of many years of research on the steelpan as well as the study of a diverse collection of instruments from around the world; such as gongs, gamelan, ghatam, drums, bells, etc. Ghatam/Udu-like sounds can be produced using the Helmholtz resonance that occurs within the clamped shallow shells. The Hang also has the capacity to ring like a singing bowl.
It uses some of the same physical principles as a steelpan but with a nitrided surface and structural change of having two clamped shells with a small opening so that the instrument is a Helmholtz Resonator. There has also been much metallurgical and acoustic research by the makers which has led to significant changes in structure, design, and process.
The bottom of the hang drum has an opened portion in the middle, called the bass note. There are either seven or eight notes on the top of the drum, arranged from the lowest note to the highest note.
Hang drums typically will rest in the hang drum player’s lap, but it is also able to be played on a stand.
The bottom of the drum instrument is known as the Gu. This surface is simpler than the top surface with a rolled hole at the centre and a tuned note.
The top side of the drum is called the ding. Hammered into the centre of the ding is the note and surrounding it there are 7 or 8 tone fields.
The main components were ready to be used: Two hemispheres in steel of high quality, one tuned to a scale, the other one without notes, fixed together- the HANG was born.
HANG means in the Bernese language hand, and so this new instrument of the millenium is played with the hands. Since its premier at the Frankfurter Musikmesse 2001 it has won many hearts from musicians all over the world.
The Hang was developed by the instrument builders of Panart, Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer. 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: Gong, Gamelan, Ghatam, drums, bells, Singing Saw...
In November 1999, the Swiss musician Reto Weber visited Panart Ltd, showed his art of playing Ghatam and dreamed of a sounding pot in steel with some notes to play with the hands.
The shape reminds us of an unidentified flying object and is manufactured by putting two flat metal bowls together. The upper half has some seven carefully tuned hollows. At the time of writing the manufacturer, PANArt, offers some forty-five differently tuned hangs, each one in a different musical mode or key.
'Hang' means 'hand' in the Bernese dialect spoken in parts of Switzerland. This instrument with its unique sound was invented by people in Bern after they had studied the Jamaican steel drum and Balinean gamelans for a while.