The call of iron has taken us, here at PANArt, a big step further. Pang, the sheet that serves as PANArt’s raw material, has over recent months given birth to novel resonance bodies. These have come together to form the Pang ensemble. The creative path has led us away from the sound sculpture Hang, and towards Pang’s other potentialities: instruments whose bodies can also bring forth a driving, pulsating bass.
For two years now, work on the sound sculpture Hang has been in abeyance. The magical, worldwide pull of this instrument has excited, delighted and comforted many. However some people have also become confused and undermined. The enormous demand for our sound sculptures has caused the broader market to produce all sorts of replicas which can now be acquired under the name handpan.
The Hang, misunderstood as a metallic drum, has raised critical questions. Is it an instrument for percussionists or for aesthetes of sound? Does it merely generate thrills, or might it produce sounds that heal? How do we deal with the ambivalence of these enchanting sounds?
As these questions await answers, we gather our forces and develop the Pang ensemble. Its music rings out every day.
The three new instruments, the Gubal, the Hang Gudu, and the Hang Urgu form the pulsating core of the ensemble, the section that drives the orchestra forward and keeps the groove going. The combination of bassy pulses with a broad percussive potential and palette of sounds provides the foundations required by the ensemble. Then, the three string instruments – the Pang Sei, Pang Sai and Pang Sui – form the choir, opening up freedom of improvisation allowing the music to flow. A musical conversation, like a shared dance, can emerge.
The Hang Urgu, a harmonically tuned pot with an in-turned neck, is an exacting instrument. It forms the Pang ensemble's bass foundation.
The Hang Gudu is a talking pot which requires nimble hands. This happily chattering vessel calls for soul-infused playing, which embeds it in the pulse of the Urgu or the Gubal. It also easily finds its place in many conventional instrumental ensembles. Mastery of the Gudu will make learning how to play the Gubal and Urgu easier.
The sound sculpture Gubal differs from the Urgu as the Gubal has a tonal extension of seven tone fields which are tuned around the central resonance opening. This instrument allows the player to reinforce his own inner music. Opening up the potential of its musical possibilities (percussion, bass and harmony) requires musical talent, as exploration of new musical territory is what this instrument is all about. When joined by other instruments, it is important to ensure that they do not drown out the Gubal, as its volume does not exceed 75 dB, which corresponds to the volume of human speech.
The call of iron has led PANArt to collective play, out of the relaxing spherical cocoon of the Hang's individual character, and into the excitement of the pulsating music of the ensemble. Together with the string instruments, a new field of musical communication has opened. Those who share PANArt's passion for this new art form can contact pangmusik(at)panart.ch . Our motto, for years, has been: “We advance step by step.” May a leisurely pace carry you. All things in good time.