What is a „Handpan“?
Handpans are ideophonic Soundsculpures, made of steel.
They consists of one central note, wich is the tonic of chorus of eight tone fields around the steel-corpus.
Variables, like the form of the tonefields, convex, concave shapes, tension, the material used, the amount of tonefields, the form of the shell, the tuning of the partials... all this has a profound impact on the final sound, and there are for some questions different ways of solution, which offers a wide range for the personal signature of the different Handpan-Builders, wich leads to the next point:
Why a LUNA? What is special about LUNA - Soundsculptures ?
Well, there are fife special-points that make Luna-Handpans different from other manufacurers:
1. The choice of material
While most manufacutrers build their Instruments from Pre-manufactured Shells, offered by companys like Shellopan in Staßbourg, I decided to turn away of the use of these.
While it definitly has some pro-points, and the quality of these shells, for e.g. Shellopan, are very good, it also is a great loss of personal expression and freedom to only use pr-manufactured shells.
2. NOT nitrading
Most Handpan builders work with a material, invented by some swizz people, which don´t want to be mentioned here, which is in fact Cold-forming steel, which is nitridated. This material is saved through patent. It hase some special sound qualitys, and while many of them are positive, not all of them are. In testing different materials, I came to conclusion to not use nitrated steel, for mainly two reasons:
First: it was invented by thoose two people, whom took a lot of research and heartblood into it, and they decided to save it via patent - regardless of what one think about this decision, I think it should be respected as such.
Second: the sounding qualitys of handpans get more and more unified wich correlates to the usage of pre-manufactured shells, note-field pressing and all the use of the same material, which by it self has a huge impact on the tuning style which is neccesary. I decided to put more veriaty on the handpan-market and to follow my own, unique handpand - sound.
What I found is a sound more critalline, and with a lot more overtones, then the typical handpan-sound of nitridated steel. While some my don´t like the bell-like sound, I feel totaly comfortable with it and feel it to be the sound of LUNA.
3. The Tuningstyle
This has a lot to do with the choice of material - often people think that high quality handpans have to be nitridated to sound proper - what I found not to be true. What indeed is necessary is to adopt the Tuning-Style to the choice of material. A Stainless-Steel handpan tuned in the same manner as a nitridated one will not envelop her full potential.
It took me some trials and a lot of errors to finaly found a special tuning style, which is in harmony with the Steel I use. Generally spooken this tuning stlye is much less focused on the compressing tension, but on a relaxed geometry of the tonefield, which merges much softer into the sphere-level ( the place between two tonefields ) than most handpans do.
This enables the whole tonefield to vibrate very long and give a full sustain and brillant overtones, which can be activated without muting the main-pitch.
4. Laquering - Urushi, an ancient asian technique
The Usage of this mystic natural material gives the Luna-Handpan not only a unique beautifull optic, and haptic, for you are not touching metall anymore, but an organic layer, It also gives a lot to the overall-sound of LUNA Handpans.
(To read more about Urushi, please scroll down the page.)
Last, but not least There is another very important unique Point of LUNA-Handpans, which is the Sound-Systhem they are tuned in:
Chinese Sound - Systems
One of the most significant things about Luna-Pans is that they are mostly tuned in the ancient chinese sound-systhem, which enables the integration into the complex philosophy and mythology of Daoism.
They invented a special tone-systhem, very similar to what we had in europe in the "pythagorean scale"
This means some differences to the regular european tuning systhem, I will explain here:
european tuners, if they use some kind of tuning device with regular setup, mostly tune on reference tone a` = 440 Hz.
This tone is internationaly standard for tuning. It is used by most instruments, as well as electronic devices and was established internationally, around WWII. In sooner times, there were different reference tones, like also 432 Hz, or even 415Hz.
There are several theorys about different effects of the reference tones, which are discussed controversy, and I will not mention here.
However, in ancient china A was not used as reference tone, but a tone nearly our western "F". Luna-Handpans are mostly tuned at the base of this f`= 174 Hz
Also here, the ancient chinese way was a different one, of creating the tone-ladder of 12 „yu", which I quickly explain here:
Starting from reference tone F, which is called the „sound of the yellow bell“ there are 12 steps in the ladder, which is similar to the european systhem. The difference is the way these tones are created, so that they are not exactly matching the european systhem.
These 12 tones are seperated into 6 Yang – which means as much as „masculine“ and 6 Yin - „feminine“ tones.
The first tone, F is a Yang tone. It moves up an exact ! quinte and becomes a woman,
a tone nearly our C, a Yin tone. The Yin – tone C is moving down an exact! quart, and becomes a Yang tone nearly our european G. This G again is moving down etc...
Of course this harmonic perfection sooner or later leads to imperfect intervalls, because of the „pytagoräean comma“ which is the problem of the principal unability to unite harmonic perfection in quinte and octave-steps.
However, LUNA, as most other Handpans, are just consisting of 8 tonefields and not a full chromatic sale, but a penta, hexa or heptatonic, so that this "mathematical incorrectness" can be calculated on those intervalls, which do not appear in the scale of the Handpan - this gives the possibility of true harmony, pure tuning.
More about the philosophy behind Luna Pan - a daoist point of view
According to the „Spring & Autum of Lü Bu We“, one of the old chinese classics, as well as to the books of changes, the „Zhou Yi“, music was integrated into the complex systhem of daoist mythology and philosophy.
It is this daoist philosophy my LUNA Handpans are focused on.
For a short overview of the asociated elements have a look at the following chart:
For more questions about this, just send me a mail via the contact formular.
Notice that the chinese months are not the same as the european ones, for they use a Luni-Solar Calendar, and that the european Notes written here, are just more or less the chinese tones.
The Way of Art - Luna Soundsculptures
Luna-Pans are handcrafted instruments by a small, one man manufacture. My aim is to keep art as close as possible to nature and simple, which is by far not the same as "easy"!
For this reasons as few machines and technological tools as possible are used in the creation-process of Luna-Pans and the materials used are as natural as possible.
I don´t see this as lack of evolution or progress, but as a dedication to the spirit of the material, and the connection that emerges between the material and my hands as they unite in the process of creation.
For this reason Luna Instruments do not use tonefiel-pressing molds & machines which are often used today and no highly nitrated steel, a product of a very energy consuming and un-ecological toxic process which, in the daoist attitude & sense of Luna, is not favorable.
Lunas are created with simple tools, hammers, steel, leather, urushi-laquer, balsamic turpentine, and are fire-hardened.
All this is very time consuming, but much more elementar and archaic, than electrical ovens, ammonic-gas, pneumatic hammers, mold-pressing-machines.
It keeps myself in contact with the process and forces me to practicing and refining.
It´s quite the same as it is with painting...no matter how far you have come – the goal is one step ahead.
So I am creating, and I love what I do. For „ the laws of music and painting are the same ones...“.
In buying my instruments you are supporting my way, and natural-near hand crafting, for which I am very thankful.
I believe this attitude will manifest in the material, in the sound and at least in your self, playing a Luna.
Urushi - The ancient Lacquer
Urushi is a pure natural lacquer which is harvested from the chinese lacquer-tree.
Its purely material-value is higher than silver, for the price per gram is between gold & silver.
The applied value however is much higher, for the technique of Urushi is what you could call the "crystallization of time".
Whit all these attributes, it still is purely organic, and has a un-reached fascinating soft haptic and beauty which is not comparable to synthetic Laquer or the inorganic feeling of nitrated steel.
There are dozens of techniques for applying Urushi in Japan and China, and reaching a state of mastering this mystic material is not just a question of months, but of years and decades. Of course, I am far away of a mastery, but I definitely keep practicing and going.
By the way, Urushi fits perfectly to the sound and does not mute the instrument. This is due to its property to stay constantly elastic, while getting very hard, but not stiff! more than this, it is integral part of the sound signature of LUNA Handpans.
At least. Luna-Pans are considered to be artworks, not instruments in the sense of instruments for the creation of reproducable tones, according to standartised systhems.
As artworks, I trie to give every one of them individual personality and quality.