For a short time only: 100€ rebate on handpans in our shop! Code: sound100
We will be shipping orders again from 04.07.2022.

History and Development

The Handpan is a niche product compared to other musical instruments. This is mainly due to the fact that the history of the Handpan or Hang® started only in 2000 - inspired by steel drums and the ghatam (clay pitcher for percussive playing). Since steel drums are curved inwards and can only be played with mallets, Felix Rohner and Sabina Scherer of PanArt Hangbau AG had the idea of curving the steel drum outwards and thus making the instrument playable with the hands as well. This resulted in a completely new instrument that combines melodic and percussive playing.

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handpan-steel-tongue-drum-vergleich

From 2007 on, other manufacturers began to develop similar instruments. Since the name Hang® is protected by PanART, the term Handpan or more rarely Pantam appeared for the first time; due to the Ufo-like shape of the instrument also the term Ufo Drum. People who do not know the instrument and discover it by chance often call it Wok musical instrument. A distributor of the Hang® in America introduced the name Hang Drum or hangsrum to indicate that the Hang® can be played similarly to a drum. Since then, the name Hang Drum has become very common and is still present today, even though it is incorrect according to PanArt, as the Hang® is not a drum.

Difference Hang® and Handpan
A Hang® is the original from Switzerland from the company PanArt Hangbau AG. The instruments of all other manufacturers are Handpans or Pantams.

Is the Handpan in Danger? Art or Music Instrument?

Handpan Community United (HCU)

In September 2020, the Handpan Community United (HCU) Foundation was officially established. HCU is a non-profit organization with already more than a thousand members. Its focus is to safeguard and protect the international Handpan Community. Besides the production and the availability of the Handpans, the playing and the further development of the instrument shall be preserved and protected. On the part of the HCU, a cooperative approach between PANArt and the handpan community is desired, and a collaborative compromise that satisfies both parties is sought. A compromise, between PANArt's view of the Handpan as an art object and the Handpan Community, for whom the Handpan is primarily a musical instrument.

However, since PANArt has hired top-notch lawyers and has already put a lot of time and effort into the proceedings, it is believed that a precedent-setting decision will be made, which, if won, would provide a legal basis for future injunctions.

The decision could thus soon affect manufacturers, stores and artists of Handpans worldwide. The right to public presentation through live concerts, videos, workshops, etc. could also be massively affected or even banned. HCU is keen to create fair chances for those who end up in court and is therefore working with the renowned international law firm Bird & Bird. The experts will help HCU members defend themselves against copyright claims and take legal action. In order to continue protecting the Handpan community from legal action in the future, HCU needs ongoing funding and therefore relies on monetary donations. A crowdfunding campaign was launched in mid-October. Anyone who would like to advocate for the Handpan and support HCU is invited to join. You can find more information on the HCU website. We are grateful for every single donation!