a Review of 2023 – with Handpan


Looking back on the year 2023, without a Handpan, is a rather bitter one in my opinion. Challenges such as earthquakes, floods, droughts, famines, forest fires and drinking water shortages don’t seem to be enough for humanity. Ongoing Wars in Syria, Ukraine or Palestine are sadly not exactly evidence of human intelligence. Remaining globally hopeful became more difficult in 2023.

just an AI-supported time travel

Will AI, which is booming so strongly in 2023, take us forward? Perhaps. Although I would argue that AI is a rather misleading if not incorrect term. It’s a bit like calling a handpan a ‘hang drum’. This ‘intelligence’ we’re talking about with AI is anything but artificial. It is much more a very real machine intelligence that is increasingly being integrated into creative processes. This will not only change architecture, literature and the visual arts. Music – from composition to the finished arrangement – will soon be able to be created more by writing clever ‘prompts’ than by classical composition.

Confusing machine intelligence with creativity could end fatally. We should remain vigilant!

With all these clouds in the global sky, I praise the Handpan universe. The world was much more in order there last year. Were there any recognizable handpan trends in 2023?

There are many signs of commercialization, and at the same time there are also many exciting handpan developments. Some manufacturers are experimenting with new materials and new tunings. The interest in new things continues. It feels good to know that many within the handpan (maker) community are very interested in the further development of this great instrument!

What was unfortunately not achieved in 2023 was to end the conflict with PANArt. Would there have been a chance? Perhaps – but probably not. Even as a truly interested party, it is impossible to view reliable information on the course of the process. This makes it impossible to get a clear overall picture of the situation. If even courts don’t publish the minutes of a public hearing, it’s easy to get lost in conjecture.

What I do know is that whatever decision is made by the Bernese court in spring 2024, this decision will have no effect on me. Handpans will exist ‘forever’ – and so will access to them. I’m sure of that – and that’s enough for me.

What else has struck me in the last year in the Handpan universe?
It’s nice to see how diverse and increasingly handpans are being woven into compositions. Handpans are now also finding their way into music as ‘background instruments’ that integrate themselves. I see this as a great and necessary development and also as a challenge. It remains exciting to watch the handpan and also the professional handpan players on their journey …

all pics taken at GRIASDI Handpan Gathering & Festival

What didn’t surprise me at all is that the international “Handpan Festivals & Gatherings” were once again the absolute highlights of the handpan year in 2023. The gatherings of this tribe are hard to describe. They are beautiful. They are different.
If you are a handpan lover and have never been to a Handpan Gathering, I have a recommendation for you regarding a great New Year’s resolution:
Attend your first Handpan Gathering. I guarantee you won’t regret it!

check out * Handpan Event Calendar 2024
check out * Handpan Gathering Video

click to enlarge

Whenever the “big noise” (everyday life, news, job, ….) pushes me away from real life, all I have to do is put a handpan on my lap. As soon as I start playing its sounds, it picks me up and takes me into the moment. And has been doing so for years. It’s this mixture of sounds, touch and movement that, put simply, makes me mindful and happy. Simple as that. At least for me.

“Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life.”

Kahlil Gibran

With this in mind, I wish all Handpan lovers a good start to the new year and a harmonious, sonorous and healthy next round around the sun.