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Most Self-Respecting Pannists Would Never Be Caught Red-Handed Playing a Handpan, and Most Handpan Players Could Not Play A Steelpan To Save their Lives

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. 




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  • Admin on

    Sweet Eustace,

    My steelpan brother from another mother. Give thanks for the support and the advice everytime. Much respect to you and yours. We have been quoting the Bible up and down, left and right in this blog and that is only because I find that this steelpan warfare is a spiritual war and the Bible is the sword that we have been primarily using to slay the beasts in the industry.

  • Eustace on

    I feel you bro, hear you, don’t know if you follow the bible , I follow only the truly protected writings the psalms, proverbs are amongst them, the authors were kings and the original was guarded in their palaces, anyway read Psalm 37, don’t get drawn into idle rhetoric , it will cause you to sink to their level and they will try to drown you calling silly people monkeys, projects you as a hater and they will make you a laughing stock , aniliation is the only recognition you will receive, flying under the name Pan art is a dead give away, and people falling for the disclaimer is an indicator of the work needed to be done, be tactful, sometimes the hunter has to hide to catch his game

  • Eustace on

    Objectivity will always fall prey to subjectivity and never be able to win a fight against it

  • I Play Steel Pan And Handpan on

    I don’t know what caused so much hatred in your heart, but I am a musician with years of professional musical education. I’ve played steel pan in one of the top groups in the us for years.

    I also play handpans and think they are wonderful musical instruments. They are extremely different to steel pans on purpose, a point you seem to miss. If steel pans are apples and handpans are oranges, you have been claiming that apples are better at being an Apple than an orange. Of course! But some people prefer oranges, so stop trying to sell them an Apple claiming it’s better than an orange. Let apples be apples and oranges be oranges. You can enjoy both and even relish in the differences.

    I happen to feel handpans are much more enjoyable to play and to listen to than steel pans after playing steel pan professionally for 10+ years. Everyone has their preference rudy, let them have it. You claim to know what is best for people you’ve never met…to each their own. Stop bashing people because they enjoy different things than you.

    This comment is meant to show you there ARE people, trained professional steel pan players, who favor handpans now. Its not a matter of ignorance or lack of musicianship like you claim, just apples and oranges.

  • Debbie Griffiths on

    Dear Admin.

    I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    Have a good day

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