PANart vs. HCU – the PANIVERSE Open Letter, Oct. 2020

In the last few weeks and months, a lot has ‘happened’ in the ‘Handpan Universe’. As someone who runs the blog “PANIVERSE.ORG” and has organized the ‘GRIASDI Handpan Festival‘ the last years, and as someone who has been asked about the current ‘PANart vs. HCU‘ situation over and over again lately, I now publish my very personal thoughts on the situation, with this open letter.

What is important for the reader is to be aware that everything you get to read here is just my very personal opinion. So it is an individual’s opinion! I speak exclusively for myself and nobody else!

It is probably pretty well known to everyone in the ‘scene’ that in recent years there have been conflicts between PANart (the undisputed inventor of the Hang®) and some handpan manufacturers. There are endless interpretations, rumors, stories and projections about the ‘History of Hanghang and Handpans’. The “story of the Hang” is told from many different perspectives and is far from being told to the end !

What I appreciate about PANart is, that they have never made the ‘magic of the Hang®’ a pure business model. All the profits that some really windy handpan manufacturers and dealers have made the last years, and that they have imagined for the future – PANart could have secured all these profits many years ago. But they did not – and I am now convinced that this was a conscious decision by PANart that impresses me!

Now, in times of a new conflict between PANart and a Handpan-Dealer i see, how people declare themself als the speakers of a Handpan Community. The HCU (Handpan Community United), emerged from a loose group of handpan manufacturers, akts like its the official voice of a worldwide Community. But just as there is no such thing as THE handpan community, there is also no such thing as THE handpan makers. Just like in the community, the makers also have different views on the topic. The really sad thing about this precarious situation is imo, that there is no open dialogue. Neither in ‘the community’ nor among the makers. Unfortunately, this is mostly a sign of tricky hidden interests, that should be protected.

Since i have watched this current, unsavory ‘game’ now for a while – I am now personally taking the right, to not allow myself to be part of this ugly conflict – and so i step back from the ‘stage of the so called handpan community’ !
I am not afraid to say, that the crowdfunding videos of the HCU and others HCU Members, where the attempt is made to disperse constructed fear, are, in my opinion, ugly, dishonest and almost ridiculously embarrassing. (Not to mention that the releases were strategically so badly timed that couldn’t be worse). I don’t want to have anything to do with such strategies and methods !

To make things clear to those who ask me to support the HCU campaign every day: Nope, i am not a member of the HCU. Quite deliberately not!

I am very grateful that PANart invented the Hang®. I am very, very grateful for those in the handpan scene who are not satisfied with a superficial fascination. I feel very grateful for all the wonderful hours that I have been able to spend so far with handpans and Hanghang – and will still spend.

Yes, these UFOs are good for me. They have become valuable to me!
I simply do not allow the HCU, PANart or anyone else to let my love for the tuned steel be stolen from me, by running a conflict, full of lies and hidden interests .

At the end i am very happy about, that there is a 3rd force in this ugly, but also very important conflict, setup and maintained by people who go deeper and are really interested in developement, discussion and respect. Their voices are not the loudest, but their work on the further development of the topics of steel tuning, sound sculptures, handpans and the honest processing of the ‘history of tuned steel and handpans’ gives me great hope that things will find their order and peace again! But this will take time. “All this” is only the beginning of a needed process…..

Whoever loses the ability to criticize himself, also loses the opportunity to take a clear view of things !