handpan origin, handpan history, hang, hang drum

The handpan, a jewel of musical innovation, was created in the workshops of PanArt in Switzerland by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer. Originally named hang, meaning "hand" in Swiss German dialect, this hang drum draws its essence from the ancient traditions of the Ghatam. Discover the rich history and cultural roots of this unique musical instrument with Zena-Drum.

Felix Rohner & Sabina Shärer, Panart

With a history rooted in cultural and technological fusion, the handpan embodies a revolution in the world of percussion, offering a range of unique sounds for relaxation and musical composition.

To read: How does a Handpan (or Hang Drum) work ?

1. The Indian roots of the Handpan

The Ghatam, also known as the Ghara, derives its etymology from its primary function: to be a "water pot". The Ghatam is in fact no more and no less than a terracotta water pot. Used in a roundabout way since the 8th century, it inspired the invention of a metal Ghatam, which became the Handpan.

Reto Weber's dream of a percussion instrument made of metal and capable of producing a variety of notes is what inspired the PanArt company to create this brand-new instrument in 1999.

Success was dazzling. The New-Age instrument, with its futuristic look, was immediately integrated into its century, finding a passionate following. But PanArt's momentum was short-lived.

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2. After the euphoria of creation, the trials

Introduced to the market by PanArt in 2000, the Hang was withdrawn from retail sale in 2005, as PanArt wanted to restrict itself to direct sales, and only by reasoned request. To the point where instruments are becoming rare and demand far outstrips supply.

Musicians have to queue up to buy one, and travel to Berne to purchase it, under cover of PanArt's right of resale, which prohibits the sale for profit.

As nature abhors a vacuum, Hang manufacturers, now known as Hang drum, quickly multiplied. PanArt's desire to control the industry as a whole led to the creation of competing companies capable of meeting the growing demand.

Targeting copyright legislation, PanArt has embarked on all-out legal disputes, attempting to prohibit the manufacture of its instrument by other firms, both in the USA and in Europe, with significant victories, such as against the Dutch company Ayasa.

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3. New instrument making

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The emergence of new production workshops, nearly 300 worldwide, has given rise to a new instrumental quality. A multiplication of sounds has appeared. New musical associations have been born.

Legal actions, which deeply destabilized the Ayasa company, ordered by the Dutch justice system to cease production, raised protests among all percussionists.

The very image of PanArt was tarnished, and under the argument of denaturing their work, the question arose whether Felix Rohner and Sabina Shärer were instead seeking to impose a legal monopoly.

Nevertheless, the hang instrument has indeed developed, and nothing can stop the course of events. The hang drum instrument has entered the great family of musical instruments, like the violin, saxophone, and harp, and nothing can prevent musicians from owning and playing this magnificent instrument that is the handpan.

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4. Chronology and evolution of the Handpan / Hang drum

Here's a chart summarizing the key moments and evolution of the handpan from its inception to the present day, offering a perspective on its fascinating development:

Year Event Description
2000 PANArt begins development of Hang Felix Rohner and Sabina Shärer start experimenting.
2001 Hang's first public presentation The Hang is introduced, revolutionizing percussion.
2007+ New manufacturers and diversification The term 'Handpan' emerged to describe similar instruments.
2010s Global expansion and continuous innovation Technological and artistic innovation enriches the available scale.
2020+ Variety of styles, materials and tuning techniques The handpan is now a global instrument with a dedicated community.

Since 2020


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The history of the handpan, from its Swiss origins with PanArt to its global evolution, highlights the fascination of this unique pan instrument. With its enchanting sound and wellness potential, the hang drum captivates both beginners and experts. Discovering and mastering the handpan promises a rewarding musical adventure, immersed in the harmonic depths of this revolutionary percussion instrument.


1. Where did the handpan originate?

The handpan originated in Switzerland, created by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer of PanArt in 2000. This revolutionary pan instrument quickly gained global popularity due to its unique, enchanting sound and versatile musical applications.

2. What is the origin of the pan drum?

The pan drum was first developed by PanArt in Switzerland. Known as the hang drum, it was inspired by traditional instruments like the Ghatam and steel drums, combining ancient musical elements with modern craftsmanship to create its distinct sound.

3. What is the science behind the handpan?

The science behind the handpan involves precise tuning of steel sheets to create resonant, harmonious sounds. Each note is carefully crafted to vibrate at specific frequencies, producing the instrument's signature ethereal tones. This pan instrument blends acoustic principles with skilled craftsmanship.

4. What is the meaning of handpan?

The term handpan refers to a steel percussion instrument played by hand. Originally named hang, meaning "hand" in Swiss German, this name reflects the instrument's tactile nature and the manual skill required to play it. Discover the beauty of this unique pan instrument at Zena-Drum.

5. How do I choose the right handpan for me?

To choose the right handpan, consider factors like scale, material, and craftsmanship. Beginners often start with a popular scale like D Minor. Explore Zena-Drum for high-quality handpan for sale, ensuring you find an instrument that suits your musical preferences and skill level.