31. October 2005 - Elimination of PANArt distribution network

Last Updated on 29. July 2021


Letter to the global PANArt distributors: (Oct. 2005)

Four and a half years ago we held in our hands for the first time a lens-shaped hemisphere of steel. We had no idea what would come of it. Now, we have before us long lists of orders from around the world. We have decided to change direction and to eliminate our worldwide distribution network. Why are we taking this step?

THE HANG: a work still in progress

We have long studied the laws of acoustics and the nature of metal, but we are still only at the beginning of understanding the tuning of spherical surfaces under tension. We have recently come upon new methods of tempering the metal. This development has shown us that we must re-apply ourselves to the development of the Hang – and separate ourselves from meeting the needs of the market.

The instrument is simply too young to be standardized by the market. However, the enormous demand for the instrument – which is now a worldwide phenomenon – has begun to take all of our time and energy. We refuse to go that way. We refuse to abandon our work on beauty of form and sound; we will not turn away from our explorations of the principles of tuning.

To date, no one has succeeded in copying the hang. The hang is a work of art. And art has its own rules.

In the near term, we are setting ourselves the task of making more stable shells, balancing the sound, refining the playing surface and the tone circles themselves. We will leave behind us the musical conceptions of the western world and listen to what we hear deep in our souls.

An important part of the development of the Hang is the collaboration with musicians all over the world. We have to listen to the music that people create with the Hang.

Two hands are not enough to satisfy the worldwide demand. Hands don’t last forever. We must devote the ones we have to the way of quality and not the way of quantity. Through direct contact with the Hang players, we will be nourished, while remaining with our own rhythm and tempo of work.

Hangbauhaus as a research centre

PANArt AG was founded in 1993 to give provide some infrastructure to the steel band movement in Switzerland. Ever since then it has been a place of research. The new musical art form of Trinidad was a challenge and we invested every penny in acoustical research and better materials; we wanted the steelpan to endure.

Many people have passed through our workshop to help us, and they have realized in a short time that the tuner’s work is not teachable. All of the facts concerning our work for the last 12 years have been published, and everybody can look over our shoulders. The Hang is not protected by a patent. Steelpan tuners worldwide, who are the most likely to break through into the understanding of tuning the Hang, have, for the mostt part, and for reasons of ideology, refused to collaborate. This is the situation in which we find ourselves.

The Hang is a cultural good, a gift for individuals anywhere in this world, who have hands and spirit free to develop a new musical language. This is the language of rhythm and sound united – a new way of expressing the vibrations of the soul.

As we already mentioned, the Hang is too young to become a market-driven fad.. If this happens, the Hangmakers lose their power to create. This is a bit like the case of a child movie star: if there is too much exposure, too early, there will have to be a retreat, during which natural growth is resumed.

We will stop delivery to all distributors and music stores at the end of 2005. Before then, all the orders to which we have already committed ourselves will be filled and delivered, in the usual quality. Thereafter, PANArt will continue to sell the Hang directly to musicians.

We have been reflecting on these matters for quite a while, turning them over and looking at them from all directions, and this message is a result of these reflections.We must follow the call of steel.

Bern, 31 October, 2005

Felix Rohner Hangmaker
Sabina Schärer Hangmaker