The Hang (or commonly known ‘handpan’) is a musical instrument in the idiophone class created by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer in Bern, Switzerland.The instrument is constructed from two half-shells of deep drawn, nitrided steel sheet glued together at the rim leaving the inside hollow and creating a distinct ‘UFO shape’. The top half (called the “Ding”) has a center ‘note’ hammered into it and seven or eight ‘tone fields’ hammered around the center.
The bottom half of the drum (or “Gu”) is a plain surface that has a rolled hole in the center with a tuned note that can be created when the rim is struck.The Hang uses some of the same basic physical principles as a steelpan, but modified in such a way as to act as a Helmholtz resonator. The creation of the Hang was the result of many years of research on the steelpan and other instruments. The inventors of the Hang have continued to refine the shape and materials and have produced several variations over the years.
You can learn more about the history of the steelpan and its’ more traditional iterations from the lovely people over at the steelpan trust or browse through the Annual Great Lakes Steelpan Festival to see the breadth of modern steelpan music.