The Hang, or Hang Drum is a relatively new and somewhat unique instrument. It was created in Switzerland by PANart, more specifically, Felix Rohner and Sabrina Scharer. The instrument appears similar to an inverted steel pan drum, and in some sense, sounds similar as well. However, the Hang construction is different, usually deferring to pentatonic or exotic tonal scales. Its inverted quality allows it to be easily played with the hands, which makes it much more subtle and warm than a Steel drum. Because of these accessible qualities, conceptually speaking, the Hang seems ideal for music therapy use. The sound production can be relaxing. The exotic scales eliminate “incorrect” notes and create unique tonal centers for improvisation.
Here are two video clips of Hang music
While all of this sounds immensely useful, the Hang costs over a thousand dollars, and they are not mass-produced, so re-sale of these items is usually higher than they were originally bought for.
Enter the Tank Drum
The tank drum takes its cue largely from the hang drum, but its construction is more like the wooden slit drum (or tongue drum, or tapo drum). The original tank drums were (and are often still) made out of propane tanks. “Tongues” are cut into the metal to create particular pitched tones. The collection of tongues will form a scale, and again, they are often catering to pentatonic scales and exotic scales….diatonic scales are also available.
Here are a couple of videos of tank drums.
While the sound quality may not be as complex or as subtle as the Hang, the tank drums are much more affordable, often running between $200. and $300. in price. There are many companies who make these instruments, and they continue to evolve in quality. Some companies include
If you happen to have a hang or a tank drum (or you happen to pick one up), we’d love to hear how it’s going.