A monkey can play the Hang. The Hang Playing Hedge Monkeys are living proof multiplied by 2 that not only can monkeys play the Hang, but their uninspired videos can go mega viral as well.
Who would not find it fascinating to see a monkey playing a musical instrument after all, especially when most of those fascinated by such monkey business have never even heard of a steelpan?
These two Hang playing monkeys pretty much epitomize the majority of the handpan cult in the sense that they are of European ancestry, appear as crusty looking hippies, are essentially flavorless, and employ busking as a means to pan for gold in the steelpan gold mine.
I am aware that I am susceptible to being accused of committing a cardinal handpan sin by using the terms ''Hang'' and ''handpan'' interchangeably, but given the fact that KaribPAN has been instrumental in debunking the entire PANArt myth, I reserve this right.
The fact is, as far as the overwhelming majority of self-respecting pannists are concerned, playing the handpan is a regressive step as far as pan performing goes, similar to how tuning handpans is a regressive step back for a steelpan tuner. This comparison was discussed briefly in our first official blog article entitled, ''The Advantages of Buying a Handpan from Traditional Steelpan Makers vs. a One Dimensional Handpan Maker''. This was an article which incidentally hurt the feelings of many one-dimensional handpan playing monkeys and makers, and served to propel KaribPAN to the position of Public Enemy # 1 (a position that we relish) in the handpan community/cult. In addition, that particular article was the catalyst for the suspension of our official Facebook page at the behest of a foul faction of handpan haters.
However, the fact remains that learning to play the steelpan presents a tremendous musical learning curve to one-dimensional handpan players. These ''musicians'' are overwhelmingly musical novices and have bought into the primary appeal of the handpan, which is that musical monkeys with no background in music can become handpan heroes. And let's face it, once you can play one handpan, you can play them all. The same cannot be said for the steelpan which represents a true family of instruments.
Despite PANArt's compounding of lies upon lies, the ''Pang'' catalogue of instruments (Hang, Gubaal, Hang Baal, etc) does not represent a family of instruments, especially not remotely in the same manner that the steelpan does. The steelpan embodies a true family of instruments in the sense that there is a pan for every vocal range from soprano to bass, and when the family is united, a steel orchestra is formed with voices in each musical range.
Although the same general skills (picking, rolling, strumming) are employed regardless of which steelpan is being played, whether it may be a tenor pan or a bass pan, each pan in the steelpan family is unique in the sense that the mechanics which are used to apply these general steelpan skills vary with each individual pan. For instance, playing a single lead tenor employs different mechanics to those of a double tenor, quadrophonic, etc. Obviously, the mechanics employed while playing a melody on 1 pan (single tenor) differ when playing that same melody on 2 pans (double tenor), and even more so when that same melody is played in 4 pans (quadrophonics).
Ultimately, the handpan is nothing more than the red-headed, cast away step-child of the steelpan family in every sense, being that it was tried and tested in Trinidad decades ago and discarded due to its severe limitations. As pannists play a chromatic instrument by and large, it is quite limiting for most pannists to consider relinquishing up to 75% or more of their musical notes for a handpan that is limited to one scale. It is precisely for these reasons that that most self-respecting pannists do not even remotely venture into the shallow handpan waters.
Conversely, the reason why many one-dimensional handpan players do not dare to swim in the depths of the steelpan waters is precisely due to their depth! For the most part, one can imagine the uphill battle that one-dimensional, one-scale-playing handpan monkeys face when trying to adjust to the infinite possibilities that the steelpan presents in terms of playing in ALL scales. For the majority of one-dimensional handpan monkeys, the steelpan waters are a no-go zone because the currents are strong and the waters literally run deep, thus their fear of drowning and being exposed as weak swimmers in musical waters is apparent.