We mentioned the hang drum earlier, so here's a little more on it. First, it's crucial that you experience this one in person. I'll include some sound links, but there's nothing like seeing, hearing, and playing this instrument for yourself.
It is, as you can see, round and metallic. It's got tuned dimples on one side (steel drum sound), and a hole on the other side (udu sound). It comes in all kinds of tunings (45 different ones, at last count). And it is made in a little factory in Switzerland (though their official website seems a bit anemic at present).
How do you play this contraption?
The instrument is played with the hands. Udu-like sounds are produced with the air resonance, the sounds of the clamped shallow shells sound like bells or harmonically tuned steelpans. The inner note on the bottom dome is the bass note, and when played in a dampened way allows change in pitch like a talking drum. Seven to nine notes are tuned harmonically around a central deep note.
[mp3] hang audio sample
An increasing number of artists are incorporating the hang into their music, or even making it their primary instrument. I've heard it in the hands of Joseph "Pepe" Danza and local percussion troupe Planet Percussion. Some samples from other hang artists (click artist name for website, click song title for mp3):
[mp3] Omri Hason: "Hangama"
[mp3] Alan Tower: "This Idea Can Save the Planet"
[mp3] Davide Swarup: "Echo"
[mp3] Indijika: "Hunahau"
And then there's this album at CDBaby.com: Bhanu: Hang Drum Music
You can find a page of different hang tunings (with audio samples) at flutekey.com. Hope this satisfies (or further feeds) your hang curiosity. And if you have a hang and aren't using it, send it to me right away.
Remember to leave a comment (or question or suggestion or elaboration) to be entered into SoundRoots' June CD giveaway!
P.S. Let this post serve as an indication that the World Cup has not completely taken over SoundRoots for the next month. Sure, the cynical among you might say that today is an aberration due to the fact that the England-Paraguay match doesn't start for another nine minutes. But you'd be wrong; small parts of our brain are still engaged with thoughts about eating, music, perhaps even work. That said, it's just eight minutes now, so I gotta go.
Okay, one more soccer thing first. Worldcupblog.org has some great tidbits, including this important factoid: "Paraguay celebrates 'Childrens Day' on August 16 and all the grade-school age children get the day off to go play football." So look out, England!