Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another Stan Wood video

Here's another video of Stan Wood:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stan Wood and his rubber band trumpet

Here's an awesome video with Stan Wood, playing a piece of rubber band, and sounding just like a jazz trumpet.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Show me your homemade instruments

I discovered this excellent video and responses on You Tube. The best videos are found in the video responses to this video:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cool music apps for your iPhone

Check out this preview of several music creation apps for your iPhone. There are a whole host of apps available to help you capture the beat or create music when you're away from your studio, on the go.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Help Save Pandora Music

If you enjoy Pandora Music ( as much I do, then your help is needed to help save internet radio. I recieved the following message from Tim Westergreen, founder of Pandora:

"Hi, it's Tim from Pandora;
Today, thanks to the extraordinary support of many Pandora listeners, we took a giant step forward when the House of Representatives supported Pandora and Internet radio and passed the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008. Now we need your help so that the Senate will pass it also - and quickly... The finish line is in sight!
After a yearlong negotiation, Pandora, SoundExchange and the RIAA are finally optimistic about reaching an agreement on royalties that would save Pandora and Internet radio. The legislation would give us the extra time we need to finalize the deal.
Please call your Senators Monday morning starting at 9:00 (Eastern) and ask them to support the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008.
The person who answers the phone in your Senator's office may ask for the bill number - it's H.R. 7084 (if they ask for a Senate bill number, you can assure them that in this unusual case, the Senate is actually voting on the House bill number).

If the phone is busy, please try again until you get through. These calls really do make a difference.
Thanks so much for you ongoing support.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Moyo Drum - Hank Drums by Rick Dunlop

My good friend, Rick Dunlop, has started producing some wonderfully crafted Hank Drums. Rick is a talented musician and metal worker who has combined these two passions into a wonderful fusion of metal and music. I'll be lucky enough to join Rick Dunlop and Steven DeRuby on stage for the opening act of the upcoming Yosemite Flute Festival. Where Rick will be jamming on the Moyo Drum and Steven and I will be on compatible keyed Native American Flutes.

Rick calls his drums "Moyo Drums". Moyo is a Swahili word for “heart”. His innovation is the inclusion of attachable legs which support the drum at a comfortable height for playing.
For more info, check out his website:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Joe Craven

I ran into Joe Craven at the World Music Festival in Grass Valley this weekend. We had a really fun conversation about obscure/interesting musical instruments, lot's of talented people and the joy of music festivals. If you get the chance at any event in the future, be sure to check out Joe's performance, you won't be disappointed.

If you didn't catch the World Fest this year, I hope to see you there next year!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hank Drums from alternative tanks

Here's a great documentary video on a issues and concerns with building a Hank Drum from alternative tanks with Hank builder Forsyte Stahlen. Forsyte explores some of his recent experiments in building Hank Drums.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hicks Sticks Didgeridoos now back in business!

Ben Hicks is back at it, making beautiful didgeridoos out of Aspen and other hardwoods. Ben took a break from the business for a year or so to regroup, and it looks like he's came back with renewed passion and building some beautiful instruments. I was fortunate to purchase a Hick Stick Didigeridoo in D (it's almost as tall as I am) a few years back, and I love it. I was sad to see Ben stop making 'em, but I am glad to see that he's back at it.
I was walking through a grove of Aspen, near Tahoe, over the fourth of July weekend, and I couldn't help but see where Ben gets his inspiration from the very shape of the trees themselves. Aspen has a wonderful, natural rugged quality to them.
Check out his website for complete inventory of what's currently in inventory, the few that are pictured have some wonderful inlay in them :
Oh, yeah and tell him that you heard about it from FoundMusic!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Play the Hang Electronically!

Can't afford to buy a Hang? Well our friends over at the have put together a really fun, virtual Hang that you can play right now, from your desktop. They call it the "e-hang" and it uses sampled tones from an hang combined with an online interface to your keyboard to enable you to play the virtual Hang with your keyboard. The sound samples are pretty good, and the keyboard mapping is intuitive. The only thing that takes a little getting used to is the slight delay with you hit a keyboard. I have a pretty fast internet connection, so I don't know if slower connections will impact the interface

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hank Drum Magnetic Tuning by Milltone

Larry, drum maker at Milltone Drums has demonstrated a new design using magnets to achieve a tunable Hank Drum. This is a very cool concept. He's finished his first drum and I believe that it'll be for sale on ebay soon. Here's a YouTube Video of his creation:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mother of all Frame Drums

I need some help from the blog readers out there. I purchased what I am calling "the mother of all frame drums" (MOAFD) a few months ago. (See the picture to the right).
MOAFD started its life as a display unit at the local Guitar Center. Its dimensions are: 36" wide x 6" deep. The sound is OK with the current head (a plastic, single ply) but the graphic leaves a lot to be desired. Here's where I need your help...

I'd like to purchase and put a new head on it, but I am unsure which head material to select. First of all there isn't a lot of selection for a 36" orchestral size bass drum, but I do have some choices. I've never played bass drum nor drum kit before, so I don't have an appreciation for the subtleties of the different drum head choices. I am hoping that one of you has the experience to guide me in making my selection for a new drum head:

  • Ambassador
  • Fiberskyn
  • Renaissance
  • Other??

I want to play this drum with my hands, like a frame drum. So the question is which of these head material choices will provide the best sound, with the most overtones? I plan to tighten it pretty tight. I am thinking that timpani head would be good, but they don't make 'em this large.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hank Drum Design Mistake

Don't Try This at Home!

I come before you humbled in this posting. I thought that I had a great idea to advance the design of the Hank Drum by accomplishing two goals:

1. Speed the cutting time for new drums.

2. Reduce the pain in @$$ cutting of the small curves in the tongues, and save blades lost when they break cutting the small curves.

So I sat down with Visio and designed a new tongue design which (on paper) seemed like a great idea. I borrowed the concept from woooden tongue drums which I have played in the past. In the picture to the left you can see the basic design, a large hole cut from the center and then the tongue cut back from there...

Well, the result was not what I expected at all...

From the picture on the right, you see the completed drum. BUT it doesn't sound great at all. After the initial removal of the hole in the center (5" in diameter) the drum sounded like a Tibetan Bowl!

Even after I cut the first tongue (the lowest D note) the drum sounded great. The low D note rang for a long time. But as soon as I cut the second tongue, the whole drum design went south... the addition of a second tongue confounded the first note and neither note sounds good. To complete the experiment I finished cutting the whole thing out. I did achieve one goal - the total cutting time was less than an hour!

My advice: don't waste $30 in this design direction. But I am going to salvage the tank by cutting out the tongues and getting back to that awesome sounding large Tibetan Bowl!

Check out the Hank Drum Collective:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mytunes MP3 Amp

This is the coolest external portable speaker device that I've seen. Runs with any type of MP3 player. Runs on batteries or USB power from your computer.

Looks like it's backordered until the end of June.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How to build a Hank Drum: Removing the Valve

I took a few photos during my last build. During this build I prepped 5 tanks, so I learned a bit about setting up a rig to help make value removal easier. Without the rig, I actually damaged the handle on the tank, because I put too much pressure on the wrench to attempt the removal. Here's a photo of a damaged tank, the arrow shows the warped area of the handle. I was able to remove the valve on this tank, once I experimented with, and created the rig. Remember to only attempt this with a new, never been filled tank.

What I engineered was a rig, using my Black and Decker portable workbench. I also used a tie-down strap with a tightening ratchet to hold the tank body in place. Final, I used a 12 inch adjustable wrench and a 1.25 inch diameter by 3 foot pipe extension for leverage on the wrench. This made the process a piece of cake. Note that I used a steel crow bar, secured in the workbench, to keep the tank from rotating.

I used the same rig to remove the metal bracket on the bottom of the tank. This part of the tank becomes the playing area.

Here's a view of the tools needed to remove the tank valve:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Milltone Hank Drum Youtube Video

Here's a great video from Larry over at Milltone Drums, as he tours some of the design features on his new drum.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hank Magic Video

Here's a short Hank Drum Video:

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Hank Drum Collective Group site

I created a new online community called: The Hank Drum Collective

This online community is designed to enable discussion of all aspects of the Hank Drum. It includes online discussion groups, a calendar and file storage area to enable communication between members.

Membership is free, and you can browse the information without being a member.


Hank Drum tuning concerns

I am not sure if other Hank Drum builders are having similar issues, but I've noticed that the first Hank Drum that I built 2 months ago has gone out of tune. I was rechecking the tuning this weekend before painting it, and I noticed that all of the notes are about 10-15 cents flat.
When I built this drum, each note was dead on in tune. Now it appears that all of the notes have gone flat. It still plays well and sounds good, but I am concerned that it's out of tune and won't play well with my Native American Flutes.

Has anyone else experienced this?

A couple of thoughts that I have:

1. The drum has been unpainted since I built it. There has been some minor rust formed along the edges of the tongues and the area where the welds were removed.
2. The drum has spent a good part of it's life outside on my (covered) deck. It's get's played often.
3. I play primarity with super ball mallets rather than my hands.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Traditional Nigerian Udu Drum workshop with Frank Giorgini

by Frank Giorgini

Three-Day Workshop
July 12, 13 and 19, 2008

COST: $325.00 includes Tuition and Materials ($50.00 deposit required)

4425 County Route 67, Freehold, NY 12431
Tel: 518-634-2559 (or 1-800-UDU DRUM) Fax: 518-634-2559 or

Link for more info:

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Samavesha Hang Gathering Concert, Richmond CA

WHAT: Hang Concert featuring Alan Tower, Gary Muszynski, Matt Venuti, Kim Riccelli, Daniel Tucker, Jessica Styler and other special guests.
WWHEN: Saturday, June 14, 2008
TIME: 7:30 PM

Samavesha Space
6115 Bernhard Ave
Richmond, CA 94805 (10 minutes from Berkeley on I-80)
Doors open: 7pm
Show: 7:30pm
Suggested Donation: $15-$20
For reservations call 415.568.1393


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hicks Sticks Didgeridoos to reopen

I just heard from Ben Hicks, and after an extended period of refocus he is going to continue producing didgeridoos. During this period, Ben took down his website and stopped producing didge's for sale. I am fortunate to own one of Ben's "Sticks", and I am happy to hear that he'll soon be making them again.

Ben explains it all on his webpage:

Ben lost his email / newsletter list to a hard drive crash last summer, so even if you were on the previous email list, you'll need to resubscribe.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Alternative Hank Drum Tuning Configurations

I had a busy weekend experimenting and building several Hank Drums from propane tanks. I am busy editing all of the video footage that I took, in order to create a "How To" video which I'll be posting on YouTube soon. I prepped a total of 5 tanks this weekend (removing the values and the metal foot, and grinding down the welds). Along the way, I learned and mastered several time saving techniques to improve the speed of the work. You'll be able to see the rig that I created for holding the tanks while removing the values. This is the biggest pain, and once I figured it out, it became simple enough that I can have the value off the tank in under 2 minutes.

The other key piece of advice is that you must have a portable grinder to remove the welds from the bottom (playing surface) of the tank. Unfortunately, the tanks that I bought were made by an overzealous welder during manufacturing. Each weld (four all together) was about 1/2 of metal attached to the tanks. I ground the first tank with a file - needless to say it took over an hour and a half...

The next day, I borrowed a portable grinder (the type used for autobody work) from my brother in law, and I was able to grind the remaining four tanks in under an hour total. The trick here is to not let the powered grinder dig into the surface of the tank to produce any 'channels'. It's impossible to clean those up, so stop short of the final grind and finish with a file.

In the meantime, I discovered one new tuning idea with Dennis Havlena's original tuning configuration. I had emailed Dennis after my first build, because the highest two notes (the C and the F, next to the low D "ding" note) didn't have great ring or sound. My theory was that they were too close to the center, and didn't have a stable base to ring appropriately. Thus, I theorized that moving them outward from Dennis's original plans would make them sound better. Indeed, my first drum that I built this weekend, I moved both of these notes out towards the perimeter of the body by almost an inch. The result was perfect, with both of these notes provided much better clarity and ring.

Here's an illustration of Dennis's original configuration (in D Minor Pentatonic)

The second drum that I built this weekend has a different tuning, still in the key of D minor Pentatonic, but with a different configuration of notes that I had proposed in my prior Blog posting:

The notes are (lowest to highest):

D F G A C D* F* G* *octave

The drum which I made using the following configuration came out really nice. I'll post pictures and a YouTube video, as soon as it final tuned and finished (Iater this week). The different configuration of notes has a different vibe. I think that it brings out different songs, and since it matches the tuning of a Native American Flute, it'll be really nice to play along with.

Link to Dennis's plans:

Friday, May 30, 2008

HAPI Drum by Didgeridoo Store - a commercial Hank Drum

Check out this new drum produced by the Dideridoo Store. They've named it a HAPI (Hand Activated Percussion Instrument).
The drums are available in either the pentatonic key of D or E.
If you wanna get your hands on a really nicely manufactured instrument, check it out here:

Or here:

Here's a video:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Grounding bar chopping block lamellaphone

Here's an excellent example of a simple to make lamellaphone. The primary element here is an electrician's grounding bar. Combine that with some tempered spring steel, in two widths: 1/8" and 3/16" & you got yourself a lamellaphone (otherwise known as a Kalimba).

Props to Yapruder who came up with this idea. I haven't made one yet, but I am planning to hit the electricians supply store the next time I am in town.

Yapruder has even posted an Instructable build sequence here:

For more inspiration, check out Yapruder's Flickr set online here:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ikea Kitchen Rhythms Winner

Tommy Be won the Ikea Kitchen Rhythms contest with this winning video:

My favorites are teh plastic mixing bowls and the water squirting on the metal...

To see all of the videos submitted for the contest, check this out:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Completed Hank Drum Ideas

I had the opportunity to take my completed Hank Drum to the Northern California Flute Circle's Spring Flute Festival, which was held on April 26 -27, 2008 in Georgetown, CA. I left the Hank Drum at one of the flutemakers booths while I was working another booth. I came back later in the afternoon to hear tales of lot's of folks stopping by the play the drum!

One of the folks who was intrigued by the sound of the Hank Drum was flutemaker Russ Venable. Russ is an expert craftsman and he has been making Native American Style and transverse flutes for many, many years. Russ asked about the construction of the drum so I promised that I would send him the link to Dennis Havlena's site with the build instructions. (

Low and behold a few weeks later, Russ dropped me an email to tell me about his build of a Hank Drum. He was enthralled with the ease of construction and the beautiful tones that he was getting from his completed drum. At that point, he hadn't finished painting the drum, but since it was his first drum, he thought that a simple spray paint job with some spray paint would do just nicely. As you can see from the pictures, his drum came out fantastic. I'm painting mine this weekend with a basic spray paint job. Notice also that Russ took off the metal hooks on the blank rubber cords and fastened the ends together with a line of cord (actually, you can't see this in the pictures). Finally, I was impressed by Russ's ingenuity with the creation of a base from a piece of pipe, a pipe fitting, a piece of wood and and some rubber feet. (see photo on right)

All-in-all, a great finish to his first Hank Drum project.

Kudos to Russ!

Check out Russ's other musical creations on his website:

I'd love to see other finished Hank Drums. I'll post the pictures here if you send them to me.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How to improve your Hank Drum

I'll be building several new hank drums in the coming weeks. I plan to photograph and videotape the whole process in greater detail this time. In the meantime, I am considering several improvements to the next build. Below are some of my ideas. Feel free to comment if you have anything to contribute to the discussion.

Idea 1 - Move both of the high A and high C tongues further out towards the perimeter of the drum surface. If you've attempted to build the Hank Drum by religiously following Dennis Havlena's plans, (link: then you'll find that these two tongue end up in the metal between the low D and the low F and low G tongues. They're darn hard to tune and they don't ring too long. Thus, the experiment to move them closer to the perimeter of the drum.

Idea 2 - Replace the high A and high C tongues with other notes within the D pentatonic scale. The idea here is that if these notes are too short to make a nice note, replace them with a longer tongue and a note that will sound better.

If you not familiar, the basic D minor pentatonic scale is made up of the following six note (in order lowest to highest):

D F G A C D* *octave

The notes currently in Dennis's plans (for the eight tongues) are (in order lowest to highest):

D A C D* F G A* C* *octave

One proposal is to replace the high A and C with the following configurations:

D F G A C D* F *G * *octave

Idea 3 - Of course there are other scales which can be made from eight notes. The easiest extension is to create the D minor scale which would use all eight tongues to create an full octave of notes:

D E F G A A# C D

Idea 4 - One of my favorite scales is called the Spanish Gypsy or "Abba Rabba" scale. In the key of D, this would be:

D D# F# G A A# C D

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hang Drum Music video featuring rashi elyasaf shmuel

Here's an awesome music video featuring the Hang and the band: rashi elyasaf shmuel ( I can't seem to find anything else from these guys online....)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Microfiche to MIDI Device from Maker Faire

Here's an interesting application. The device converts light into MIDI signals, and was shown at this year's Maker Faire.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Music for People Workshops

I stumbled in to the Music for People website today and found that they have a very rich calendar of musical workshops, programs and retreats. I have not attended any of their programs (they are on the east coast, I am on the west coast). But they have some wonderful events planned.

Here's a link to their calendar:
They offer a range of products:

Maker Faire 2008: Instrument Interfaces

Here's a video of several unique musical interfaces from the 2008 Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA. I didn't go this year, but it'll be on my calendar for 2009! (Note: the video takes a while to load) from Collin Cunningham on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Video: Blogs in Plain English

Are you curious about what blogging is all about?

I found the perfect explanation of how blogging works, if you're curious.

This short video explains it all, in the simplest terms I've found yet. (the video is entertaining by itself...)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Hand Cranked Drum Machine

Here's a awesomely simple, hand cranked drum machine. I gotta make one of these:

Life imitates Art: The Guitar Zeros

Guitar Zero's are a group of musicians who've created software to use their "Guitar Hero" controller (the guitars) as real instruments. The software interfaces with the controllers to enable the buttons on the guitar controllers to trigger MIDI sounds.
Pretty cool engineering, even if it's a bit limiting from the musical side.

For more detail, including a free download of their software:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sonic SLOrk Sculptures

The all-new Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk) presents an afternoon of music and sonic installations performances, among the statues and under the canopy of the New Guinea Sculpture Garden at Stanford University. This first-ever outdoor laptop orchestra concert features works by members of CCRMA/SLOrk, Scott Smallwood, Perry Cook, Dan Trueman, and SLOrk director Ge Wang.

WHEN: Saturday, April 26, 2008
WHERE: New Guinea Sculpture Garden, Stanford Campus, Palo Alto, CA
WHEN: 3pm
Admission: FREE

New Guinea Sculpture Garden
450 Santa Teresa St
Stanford, CA 94305

For more info, a full updated concert calendar and a map please visit:

Monday, April 07, 2008

How Precolumbian Whistling Jars Work

I found this fantastica article on pre-Columbia whistling jars on the ceramic musical instruments yahoo group. This article, by Brian Ransom explains how the jars are built and how they function. I've never seen or heard one, but now I am very curious.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Downstream Hang Meditations

Here's a really nice video with Hang Drum played from the CD "Hang Meditations" by Pete Barnhart and Ron Kravitz on Digital Alchemy Music

Friday, April 04, 2008

Musical Furnishings Percussion Table

Here's a super cool new product from Musical Furnishings. It's a musical table with interchangable instrument panels. It's called the Rumba Series. It's available in 4 sizes (2x2, 2x4, 3x3, 4x4). Prices range from $800 to $2900.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Handmade cardboard Uke

Here's a great how-to article about how to create a cardboard ukulele.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Comparison of 2008 Hang Drum to prior years

The Hangblog has an excellent entry describing the differences between different model years of the Hang Drum from Panart.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Video: Integral Hang Drum

Here's a recent video of the 2008 Hang Drum model from Panart. This video provides you with a 'tour' of all of the sounds possible from this instrument.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Hangout UK 2008 announced

Hangout UK 2008, is a gathering of Hang enthusiasts in the UK

When: 19th - 21st September 2008
Where: Mellow Farm, Farnham, UK
Cost: 20 pounds (sorry, don't know how to get a british pound symbol on my computer...)

The event will include workshops and concerts.


Friday, February 29, 2008

Blackbells Astral Hang Drum

Blackbells now has more information up on their website about their first limited edition Hang Drum model to be offered. It's called the "Astral". They haven't yet decided on the tuning which will be offered, and from all information available, it looks like the scales offered on the Astral will be limited.

It appears that this first model is going to be more about scaling production and getting all of their production kinks and tuning methodology worked out. Thus the limited scales offered.

The Good News:

Looks like they are ready to start taking deposits on the first ones to be produced. Cost will be $3000, give or take a little. You must be on the waiting list to be offered one, so if you have any interest, best to get on the waiting list. When I joined the waiting list in January, there were 200 or so ahead of me. I have no idea what the list looks like now, but you'll need to submit a form on the website to get on the list.

I have to admit that $3000 can buy a lot of instruments... I could buy a pretty sweet Martin guitar for that price... so it still seems a bit pricey. That and the fact that I haven't received spousal approval yet for this.

They are suggesting that it will be about a 3 month wait from the time your deposit is received.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spike Fiddles by Peter Biffin

I recently stumbled in this new design of a spike fiddle by Australian, Peter Biffin. A spike fiddle is a relative of the modern violin. It includes four or five strings, and has a range similar to that of the violin.
The Tarhu is a new form of spike fiddle, created by instrument maker and musician Peter Biffin. The tarhu design uses a unique acoustic system, where the string’s vibrations are transferred to a featherweight wooden cone suspended within the wooden body. This design creates extremely sensitive instruments with an unprecedented range of tone colour variations. The efficiency of the cone system has also given these instruments a very large dynamic range

Unlike the violin, it is played by balancing it on a spike on the floor or the players lap. And, instead of moving the bow to change strings like with the violin, the spike fiddle is rotated on the spike and the player keeps the bow at the same angle

I find the sound from these instruments to be incredibly beautiful, and these instruments made by Peter Biffen to have amazing craftsmanship. They're not cheap, but I can imagine that they are a wonderful investment.

Peter some some great sound samples on his website, be sure to check them out, in order to hear the range and sound color of these instruments.

Peter makes several styles:

Long-neck Tarhu

Has four played strings and 8 sympathetic strings. It comes with tied frets, which enable a vast range of tunings, including modern/western tunings to microtonal middle eastern tunings. Be sure to listen to all of the sound files which demonstrate the range of this instruments in both a bowed an plucked playing style.

Kemanche Tarhu

This four stringed instrument is based on the traditional kemanche. But it looks like Peter has improved on the design and sound quality substantially.

Lyra Tarhu

This three string instrument is based on the traditional Cretan Lyra.


This is Peter's unique design. You gotta listen to the sound sample to appreciate what this instrument can do.

To really understand and appreciate the design enhancements which Peter has made here, you need to visit the
design page on the website:


Friday, February 22, 2008

Get your Google Moon 2.0 Xprise T-Shirt

OK, admittedly, this has nothing to do with music, but I am space fan and the Google Lunar Xprise is just too cool of an idea not to spread the word around. They announced the first 10 participants in the race this week. Now you can purchase this t-shirt to show your support for the event.

Since our government seems to have little interest in returning to the moon anytime soon, I applaud the Xprise folks for setting up this competition to inspire a new generation of engineers to get to the moon.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Another great Hang Video

Great Hang Video

Sunday, February 10, 2008


This is found music at it's best. I stumbled on to a new online flash music project called Muxicall.
Basically, it's an interactive music sound board that has the notes organized in a very interesting way. By clicking with your mouse, you make music.

In addition, it's also a shared music space, so that as other users login and play with it, you all make music together.

Check it out at:

Friday, February 08, 2008

New "Oscar" Hank-like Drum from Tribal Thunder

Tribal Thunder has produced a Hank-Drum derived instrument. Each drum has 6 notes, in a pentatonic scale. It looks like they are possibly welding the tops of two propane tanks together to make a much shorter (about 9" tall) and easier to handle drum. I really think that they have done a great job developing this instrument. The paint colors are awesome. You can play it with either your hands or mallets.
Cost is $400.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Hang Music Site

Here's a couple of fun Hang Music sites:

Monday, January 28, 2008

50th Anniversary of Legos

Google had this awesome image up on their search window this morning, reminding us that today is the 50th anniversary of Legos (or rather the 50th anniversary of the patent) ! I know that I've spent a considerable amount of my early life, and now with my kids, being inspired by Legos. Congratulations Legos!
Related Links:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Blackbells Website is LIVE

The Blackbells company is a new company who are bringing a new version of the Hang Drum to market. Their site is now live and features a really lush flash intro. You gotta check it out.
They are taking orders for their waiting list now and it looks like it will be something like 3 months to receive a drum. I wrote to the company and recieved the following email in response to my inquiry:

"Thank you for your interest in, and we apologize for the delay in getting back to you. Currently, we do not have a specified price range. However, we are expecting a release date of around Q1 of 2008. Availability will largely depend on demand, and currently we have a waiting list of roughly 100 customers, and some of those have ordered more than one. We anticipate a typical wait time for new orders to be roughly 3-6 months, and of course, we are looking to shorten that time without compromising quality.

What can we tell you about our instruments? Well, we have approached it as a bell, which we believe it truly is. All of our instruments will be made with the highest quality materials, and will come with a certified print out of tuning accuracy. We are experimenting with various hardening procedures, but do know that playing over the years will render the instrument out of tune. As a result, we are aware that we need to offer some sort of tuning service for our customers. We are working on those logistics as we speak.

If you would like to get on our waiting list, we request that you send us an email and include the following information:

Full Name

Shipping address (we will confirm this before shipping)

A phone number we can reach you at

Valid email address

Nature of request (number of instruments, etc.)

The process will work as follows:

When we are ready to provide your instrument, we will contact you and describe the opportunity, discuss payment arrangements, etc. If you are not able to purchase the instrument, we will go to the next in line and your name will have to go to the bottom of the list. When we ship, we will ship certified, and insured for full amount – no exceptions.

We are very excited about providing you with a high quality instrument, and appreciate your interest in and support of

Note that there is now an online form which you can complete to get on the waiting list!

If you have any interest in getting your hands on a Hang-style drum, this looks like a great opportunity.

It appears that Blackbells will push new limits with the Hang-style drums. They are looking at new ways of creating and tuning the instrument, as well as new designs. Who ever said competition isn't good for the market? ;-)

They are also going to be offering services including a 'retuning' service for your Blackbells drum over time. It looks like they are serious about their "whole product" delivery, and I applaud that.

If you want to get whipped into a frenzy, checkout their online forum:

Here's the website link:

How to Build a Hank Drum

Over the holidays, I had some down time to finally build a new "Hank Drum" based on the plans by Dennis Havlena. Here's a link to the plans:

I've been in love with the Hang Drum, but alas, I haven't been able to find an affordable one to purchase yet (but you can read more about that adventure on my other posts).

Here's the story about my creation process in building my own Hank Drum.

Step 1: Purchase a brand new 20 lb propane tank. NOTE: like Dennis recommends, ONLY USE A NEW NEVER BEEN FILLED TANK.

Step 2: Remove the value. I released the air pressure inside the tank with a screw driver by turning the screw on the side of the valve. Then I used a large adjustable wrench and some leverage to move it. This will take some strength and possibly addition help to hold the drum and turn the wrench. In the picture, you'll see how I secure the drum with a crowbar.

Step 3: Remove the bracket from the bottom of the tank. This will become the playing surface of the drum. I used a 10" adjustable (monkey) wrench, tightened to the dimension of the metal on the bracket. I then worked it back and forth over each weld until the bracket broke free. After breaking off the welds, be sure to file down the weld mounts until they are flush with the surface of the 'drum head'.

Step 4: Printout the pattern from Dennis's website and enlarge the pattern on your scanner or a copy machine until it is the correct dimension. Position this pattern overtop of the "drum head".

Step 5: Trace the pattern onto the surface of the drum. I used a sharpie pen to copy it. This turned out to be a pretty good idea, as the saw scratched up the surface pretty good and I was using oil to help the cut. If I had used a pencil or a water soluable pen, the lines would have been messed up.

Step 6: Cut the tongues out with a jigsaw and metal cutting blade. Follow Dennis' advice on grinding down the blade to cut the tight radius. I went through two blades to cut all of the tongues out. Here's where I made one variation from Dennis's recommendation. Instead of drilling three small holes (my cordless drill battery is pretty shot anyway), I used a dremel tool with a cut-off wheel to start the cut, right on the line of the tongue. (I apologize that the image is sorta blurry). From here it was easy to cut out the rest of the tongue. NOTE: As Dennis recommends, make sure that you stop short on each tongue. This leaves you room to tune each tongue later.

Step 7: Tuning the drum. This is the step where you have to be the most careful. You'll need a digital tuner to complete this step. I started with the biggest tongues first. I used a hacksaw blade with half of it covered in electrical tape, to extend the cuts of each tongue until it was in tune. Note: as shown in the picture, I used eletrical tape to deaden the other tongue while I tuned a specific tongue. I also followed Dennis's advice and left the larger tonque's "open" when tuning the highest two tongue. I am still not completely happy with the tuning or performance of the highest two notes, they "sound" but they don't ring very long.

Step 8: Add a couple of rubber tie down's to the middle of the drum. This helps to dampen the ringing.

Step 9: Play your drum!

Additional thoughts:

First of all, props to Dennis Havlena for his incredible ideas! Keep 'em coming...

Second, I took a dowel, inserted it though the value hole, placed the end on the backside of a tongue and then hit it several times with a hammer. This pushed the individual tongue "up" above the surface of the tank bottom. I think that this make it more playable.

Third, I've also been playing around with the strategic placement of modeling clay on the tank bottom to help eliminate some of the overtones, attempting to get a purer sound.

Fourth: Check the "How To" link section on the sidebar of the blog for additional blog entries on Hank Drum construction.

I'll post a YouTube video once I get a moment to record something.

Join the Hank Drum Collective:

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Vegetable Orchestra

Here's an a couple of awesome videos of the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra. They make all of their instruments out of vegetables before the concert. I especially love the sond of the cabbage head.

For more information:

"This is organic music at its best" - Larry the Cucumber
"My cousin has been a featured performer several times" - Bob the Tomato

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Manu Delago Hang Music

I discovered Manu Delago's hang music. This guys plays some wonderful music on the Hang Drum.

I love this video:

Sunday, January 06, 2008

US Hang Manufacturers

Rumors abound that there may be some new US manufacturers entering the market with new Hang-style instruments. After some research this morning I discovered that at least one new US manufacturer has a website up and running and is talking about a new product release. The company is call "Blackbells". Website: Blackbells

There is another US pan drum company considering making a Hang-Drum style instrument, but no official news yet. The company is the Pantheon Steel Drum company.