Thursday, May 02, 2019

The Futuristic, Paleolithic Looking Musical Instrument You Almost Certainly Can't Buy

While poking around YouTube I've come across folks playing this funky instrument known as a hang. Here's a good example:

The music has a chill quality to it that makes it perfect for late night programming sessions.

A few days ago I stumbled on this mini-documentary that describes this instrument: SoundWorks Collection - Artists in Resonance with Laura Inserra and the Hang Drum.

The hang turns out to be unique in a number of ways. It's the only metal instrument that doesn't use mallets to generate a sound. It also generates sound that hints at other instruments, such as the harp, marimba and flute. Most surprising: it was created in 2001.

Humans have been making music for at least 40,000 years, and yet you're telling me that it's still possible to create a brand new instrument? Astounding, no?

There's one more unusual aspect to the hang: it's terrifically difficult to buy. This site briefly explains:

The first question that many people have is “how can I get one of these?”
If you are looking to get an original PanArt hang, it is available from the makers in Switzerland. There are certain steps involved and if you are offered the chance to buy one, you have to travel to Switzerland to personally choose the instrument.

I can't imagine what the "certain steps" are you have to take, or what criteria you have meet to be offered a chance to spend thousands to buy one.

Here's a tale of an individual who, like myself, became curious about the hang. So curious in fact, that he wrote an article for the Atlantic on the topic. The creators rebuffed him, refusing to be interviewed.

Perhaps this forced scarcity is somehow a good thing. I just know that as someone who exists in the Open Source ecosystem, the thought that you'd create something wonderful and then not provide a way to share it seems wrong.

Still, if you've got an extra couple thousand dollars lying around all hope isn't lost. Amazon can connect you up to sellers who can deliver a hand-made hang-like instrument. I'll stick to listening to the clips on YouTube, thank you very much.

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