Handpans – Strong sounds for tough times ? A journey into the depths of intimate consciousness

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A declaration of love to sound – a reminder of the power of the reduced – and an invitation to question preconceived paths and to break with musical systematics.

The essence of sound: a journey into the depths of intimate consciousness – far removed from music theory, standards, imitation, rhythm theory or any other guidelines and self-expression.

Music and sound, although often used interchangeably, are two fundamentally different experiences. Music as we know it is an art form based on rhythm, melody and harmony. It is a structured language that expresses emotions through well-defined music theory systems. Sound, on the other hand, is raw and unbound. It is the pure, unadulterated experience of vibrations that resonate deep within ourselves.

The high quality of listening focused on sound offers a unique opportunity to deepen consciousness. Unlike the passive consumption of music, which is often used for entertainment, listening to sound challenges the listener to be present in the moment. It is a form of active meditation that focuses the mind and reflects the inner self.

Playing with sounds frees us from the predetermined systematics of music theory. While classical music theory concentrates on subjective ideas of harmony and rhythm, it often ignores the sound itself – the essence. Sound worlds, on the other hand, invite us to explore the beauty of reduction to the essentials. They offer the chance to recognize and reflect ourselves.

In a world dominated by extroverted music that wants to be performed and seen, turning to sound is an introspective journey. It is a journey that allows us to discover our own inner silence and the space between the notes. Soundscapes are not just an alternative to conventional music; they are a window to our soul.

The importance of sound lies in its ability to center us and connect us to the core of our being. At a time when the world around us is becoming increasingly noisy, the beauty of sound can serve as an anchor to help us find calm and clarity in our daily lives. They are a tool that enables us to go beyond the familiar and open up new dimensions of perception.

The process of conscious listening allows the sound to flow through the body and become one with it. Studies show that conscious listening not only sharpens perception, but also enables a holistic experience of the self and the environment. By focusing your attention entirely on the sound, you can experience deep relaxation, inner peace and a heightened sense of connection with your surroundings.

Soundscapes are therefore not only a form of artistic expression, but also a means of personal development and spiritual growth. They encourage us to transcend the boundaries of conventional music and discover the infinite possibilities that lie in the simplest vibrations. In the reduction to the essentials lies an unexpected complexity and beauty waiting to be explored.

Handpans offer much more than rhythms and melodies – even if 99% of all handpan workshops on offer ignore this fact and reduce the handpan to a completely normal musical instrument. So it’s no great surprise that hundreds of thousands of handpan players are now playing the same patterns, which I personally find incredibly boring. And that’s a shame – because a great opportunity to ‘democratize and redefine music‘ is being used far too little.
To unlock the true potential of a Hang/Handpan, you don’t need any technology, no prior knowledge, no lessons, no teachers and certainly no system – just curiosity and the joy of discovering and playing.

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.

Shungyru Suzuki

The power of a “beginner’s mind” is called SHOSHIN in Japan. The goal of practice should be always to keep our beginner’s mind. This means – an empty mind and a ready mind. Only if your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything and it is open for anything.

These sound UFOs are actually much more “empowering tools” than musical instruments – or could be. But if word got around more, it would soon be very difficult to sell workshops and online courses – and after all, it is still the case that ‘money makes the world go round’ – and by God, the “Handpan world” is no exception. Unfortunately.

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3 Comments

  1. Beautiful article highlighting the fundamental gift that handpans bring to the world – the joy and natural vibration of sound itself. As a player whose attraction to these marvels of steel goes back more than ten years, I recall the feeling in my Being the first time I heard a pan – an original first gen Hang at an event – it was ethereal and surprising and struck a chord in the middle of my chest through to my heart. Since then I have struggled to learn to “play” and have attempted many times to learn more music, harmony, theory and percussion with some progress, yet I seem to “fail” at being musical enough compared to so many other great players. My idea is that I need to absorb all the theory and practice and techniques then be able to drop them all and simply “be” with the pan. Your article is a reminder to me to just “let go” and remember the first feeling, the first time and just let the sound take me on many journeys. Thank you

  2. Thank you for voicing the true essence of Hangs & Handpans that has filled my consciousness from the first notes that filled my being in 2005. I have never taken any handpan courses. I am too busy opening out a way for the imprisoned splendor to escape. My songs are my prayers.

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