About the rights and the philosophy of PANArt
40 years have passed since a steel band has been playing here in Berne, Switzerland, and inspired Felix Rohner and his friend to grab the hammer and build a musical instrument out of a steel barrel. This band gave them a kick to venture into something new, to sheer out of the course of ordinary things and make their own music.
From this, something has been born: a group of instruments made of Pang material, build to be played with the hands.
One of these sound sculptures, the Hang® in turn, inspired people around the world: on the one hand tongue drums were made of gas tanks, on the other hand, the shape of the Hang® sculpture with the central tone field, the tone ring and the resonance hole has been copied hundreds of times. A proper hype has been born. The cause of this raging development can surely be attributed to the Internet and YouTube. Meanwhile, this instrument is well known by millions of people.
After 17 years of research and development we, the tuners of PANArt, are in a tense relationship with manufacturers of replicas, copies or fakes of the Hang sculpture from the years 2000 – 2013. They are marketed as handpans, cupolas, pantams, dischi armonici and sound sculptures for an impressive price. Approximately 150 builders tout for potential buyers for their instruments.
The following chapters are intended to better understand the position of PANArt and to clear up misunderstandings.
About the rights of PANArt
Hang® is the trademark which we use to distinguish the instruments from PANArt. We nourish and cherish it because it stands for the constant development work on our instruments. The trademark Hang® means also to avow for the traditional metal sheet art, which the tuners of PANArt have learned and appreciated from artists and scientists of Trinidad.
Pang® is the second trademark from PANArt. It stands for our material on which we work on a daily basis carrying on its further unfolding.
Our Patent in the USA and in Europe is a acknowledgement of our long research on the acoustics of musical instruments. The patent protects a procedure for increasing the internal energy of sheet metal. The result is the innovative metal matrix composite Pang.
Pang fulfills our vision of a material that is suitable to agglomerate oscillation energy and to modulate it harmonically. The potential of this thin and high-strength material lies herein if you don’t want to be stuck in chaos.
The path wages through forming, smoothing, compressing and stretching the material. The results are sound vessels with resonance opening and inward directed neck that allows new musical art forms.
The design of the Hang sculptures build through the years 2000 – 2009 is not registered, but the design of the Free Integral Hang of 2009 is a registered design.
In only one case this led to a trial, held at a Swiss court. The subject was the copyright law which is handled in a much more stringent way in Switzerland than in other countries. The outcome of this trial with EchoSoundsculpture GmbH, the producer of the Asachan handpans, was a settlement. EchoSoundsculpture had to change the appearance of the domes in the tone fields and the resonance hole of his Asachan handpans in order to prevent confusion with the Hang sculpture.
PANArt has registered a number of designs in the last years, they are fairly respected. We are of the opinion that it is utterly important, in the ticklish zone of the dazzling sound of sheet metal and in a marketplace marked with confusion and disinformation, to create legal clarity. PANArt will enforce its rights, wherever obvious violations will occur and profit is made out of these violations.
About the philosophy of PANArt
PANArt‘s research on the Pang sound continues. Hang is the synonym for evolution. It is hard to tell where this evolution will lead, because the tuners of PANArt peer into the Pang mirror every day and are surprised what it has to tell. It is only possible to hear and see the next steps if the ears are deaf to the clamor of the marketplace. The „Hangruhe“, a time of reflection and rest at the end of every year, is a valuable aid in this process.
PANArt and its customers
Thanks to the agreement with their customers against speculation, the PANArt tuners have avoided to be exploited and are now glad to welcome their new creations Hang® Gubal, Hang® Bal, Hang® Gede, Hang® Gudu, Hang® Urgu, Hang®Godo, Pang strings and lastly now the Hang® Balu, that will be presented for the 25th anniversary of PANArt in 2018.
Even if it dissents from the spirit of the time, PANArt will keep on with settling those agreements with their customers. A signature and a handshake still have a value for us. This will apply only to our more complex instruments Hang Gubal, Hang Bal and Hang Balu.
With the instruments of the trademark Hang® the PANArt tuners create instruments that shall serve the people to make their own music. It fills us with great joy when percussionists, therapists, performers, sound lovers welcome our instruments, but most of all the Pang instruments for us are tracks of a work that keeps going on and are not made to satisfy the demand of a market.
Collaboration with sound sculptors
Since the foundation of PANArt in 1993, we have continued to offer a large part of our experience and knowledge. In newspapers, scientific papers, international congresses and interviews in radio and TV we have shared what we have discovered, what we do, what dreams and visions we have.
The art of the sound sculptors is based, most of all, on experience. Through the daily exercise, we internalize the laws of our material and we are able to league with it. The PANArt tuners were lucky to be able to create their own material. Their vision to relieve the sound of sheet metal from a connotation of carnival and exotic is evolving step by step. The sound of Pang is intensive, clear in its modulation, experienceable with the bare hand. Thanks to the new component of the Helmholtz resonator the path is unfolding and a playing in groups seems to be possible again.
The PANArt tuners have always sought and also found the exchange with other tuners. Tuners from Trinidad, Great Britain, Germany and France visited PANArt. Even a swap of the hammers occurred in the case of Patrick Worrell and Jimmy Philips from Trinidad in the year 2000. In the same year, a meeting with tuners from Great Britain, Tony Charles and Nat Constant, took place. They allowed the PANArt tuners expressly to retune their steelpans that were played in Swiss steelbands.
A fertile collaboration with the handpan maker scene seems to be a more complex task. The experience of PANArt with the art form steel band, their journeys to Trinidad and the work with 150 steel bands in Switzerland, France and Germany appear to cumber the dialogue with young builders of sheet metal instruments. Misunderstandings are frequent. Sometimes even aggressions rose up, they can be attributed to the fact that PANArt has no interest in a community of vast extensions like those sought after in social media everywhere around the globe. We are skeptical towards the ongoing hype around the Hang sculpture and its copies, as well as towards the euphoric call for unconditional sharing. Before the sharing comes reciprocal respect and a concrete creative contribution.
Building a good instrument with the hammer by shaping, distributing the stresses correctly and fine tuning is the result of an inner process. Under this perspective, it may be more comprehensible that we will not hand over this work to machines.
Meetings with other builders of instruments of all types take place frequently at PANArt. Often they come with new ideas. Talks about sound, music culture or acoustic problems related to the building of instruments made of wood, stone, glass or metal unfold frequently. Every time we part enriched and everybody goes back to his work within or outside the tradition.
Also, handpan builders have visited us and asked for a feedback. They have perceived that their works, inspired by the Hang of the early times, still need more work, or more precisely: Listen carefully, for whom are you building it? Pay attention, how does it affect you? Is it what you need or is an extrinsic voice leading you? Do you see the ambivalence of the sound of sheet metal? Do you see how people react to your work? Does your instrument give strength to the players or does it weaken them?
These are questions that lead to the essence of existence and that we ask ourselves every day during our work.