The call of iron

Authors: Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer
© Copyright by PANArt Hangbau AG – All rights reserved
Published on May 10th, 2011
Languages: German, English, French, Italian

In the year 2001 PANArt introduced the Hang. 10 years later the Hang builders at PANArt, Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer, were using this anniversary as an opportunity to communicate to a broad public where the “call of iron” had taken them, where they stood at time of writing and how they intended to continue.

Deutsch | English | Français | Italiano

Hang® by PANArtMay 2011

It was 10 years ago that PANArt Hangbau AG introduced a sound body at the Music Fair in Frankfurt.

The Hang

We Hang builders at PANArt, Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer, are using the 10-year anniversary as an opportunity to communicate to a broad public where the “call of iron” has taken us. We glance back at these past years with gratitude. Today’s fast-moving times do not call for many words. In short, here is where we stand today and how we intend to continue.

Nestled on our lap is a Hang

The vessel sounds without requiring a playing technique. Like a seismograph it answers the softest touch, it amplifies the most subtle gesture of the hand and fingers, it touches the innermost of humans. A mirror. More than a mirror. An instrument to get into the mood of a free flow. A tuning instrument. Harmonization through absorbing that which flows from the hands. Time independence.

There is no need for an audience, a stage, microphones, loudspeakers. It is not intended as a platform for the art of percussion, and composers will not come across any tonal system that would produce a satisfying result.

We are aware

The Hang – like the steel pan in Trinidad – is tuned to be revealing. Just as a steel pan player uses his stick to hit the “Sweet Point” to prompt people to dance, the hand on the Hang is used to set energy free that goes under the skin, relaxes, and leads into another state of consciousness where rational control ceases to exist.

Using a chemical procedure, PANArt has altered the acoustic characteristics of ordinary sheet iron to obtain an instrument which stays in tune. The patented pang composite material has become our raw material and has led to the Hang as it is today. It turns out that this new material has ever so much intensified the effects of resonance on the human soul, that we Hang builders felt challenged to take up a serious study of this phenomenon.

Just as the string of a violin or guitar can only produce its harmonics under tension, so does a Hang have to be under external tension. If this is not done, it sounds boring, unrefined, banal. The high residual stresses in our pang metal is additionally enhanced by our hammer work. Our task is to adroitly guide, reduce and distribute this energy – a road we always have to travel anew. Each Hang, therefore, is an individual sculpture, a sound-scape characterized through an immense abundance in resonance, a seemingly simple structure, yet which produces more than 8 tones. A hot coal over which hands may safely glide – thereby serenely integrating Ding and Gu . . .

We realize

The Hang means an opportunity to rediscover the music behind the music, to linger at the source of creativity and to acknowledge that there are places where we do not have to produce, master or manifest anything, where we don’t have to be good at something.

Misunderstandings are at hand – or in the ear! The Hang – as the steel pan and other sound vessels of the non-European world – eludes the attempt at being classified in a conventional manner. Their resonance is not only fluctuating, oscillating, dynamic and complex, but also has a powerful and immediate effect on the entire body and soul.

Careless use may even lead to confusion: the space that a Hang can create is misunderstood if the released emotions are reduced and credited to the ego. A creeping addiction may arise. The Hang is categorically misunderstood by all those who use their hands for drumming: the euphoric rush – alone or in company – is in the long run simply unhealthy. Moreover, it is misunderstood by those players who use gloves and are thereby damping valuable energy, or by so-called sound creators who use mallets and are trying to redefine the Hang as a steel pan, which it is certainly not. The Hang – as we know it – demands thoughtful and responsible use. The resonance that we integrate into the vessel is the material from which the player forms a secure space and perceives himself anew: a very personal, intimate process.

We have decided

  • to keep on building the Free Integral Hang. We will practice every day to keep the sensual plasticity from fading and the tonal energy from ebbing.
  • to pass the traces of this work to interested parties who accept our views and travel on their self-accountable path.
  • to make the few Hanghang available on the basis of letters and recommendations.
  • to not keep waiting lists.
  • to pay more attention to how the Hang is developing in the world of therapy. We are skeptical because we are not convinced that this branch lends itself to a reasonable application of the highly complex Hang. Despite having asked for feedback on this subject, we have received only a few reactions and experiences.
  • to not turn our attention to the media such as YouTube and CDs. We know that the high dynamic of the Hang sound cannot be captured by microphones, and loudspeakers only distort reproductions.
  • to inform all Hang players on streets and in parks that we are flooded by letters from people who were deeply moved and also want a Hang from PANArt. We are asking all street musicians to contemplate their mission.

Independence through dosage

Ten years of experience with the Hang have shown that it stays in tune. Thanks to intensive research PANArt was able to reinforce its pang metal by inserting very solid nitrogen needles. Our most recent generation of Hanghang can hardly be deformed – whether through natural temperature influences nor when played normally with the hands. Our instruments are top stress relieved by repeated treatment in our specialized oven and their form corresponds to the proper distribution of the compressive stresses. These characteristics set the Hang apart from copies made of ordinary metal. It doesn’t need to be retuned and with time it matures to its full bloom, its sound space expands.

Thanks to the pang material, a tuner as required for steel pans in Trinidad has become obsolete. Therefore, we are discontinuing our tuning service. It rests within each Hang player’s responsibility to take care of the sound-scape of his instrument and not to destroy it through sheer force or by beating on it with mallets, etc. This has been the case for most of the instruments which were brought to us for tuning during the last few years. However, we do offer repair and maintenance service in the isolated case of an accident.


PANArt Hangbau AG holds registered trademarks “Hang” and “PANArt” to avoid counterfeits and fraudulent use. There is also a patent for the pang composite material: its inexperienced use and application could overly aggravate and may even provoke damage.

For years PANArt instruments have been on the market for exorbitant prices and speculation has flourished. We take issue with this situation and our Free Integral Hang is therefore restricted to clients who agree to keep this delicate object from making its way in the popular market.

We would like to advise interested parties that various Internet sites contain false or old information about the Hang. This text will be entrusted to the editor of the Hang Library, Michael Paschko.

Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer, Hang makers

P.S.: We appreciate your understanding that we cannot receive unannounced visitors.

PANArt Hangbau AG
Engehaldenstrasse 131
3012 Bern, Switzerland