Saturday, February 23, 2008

Inspired by the Hang...

A few weeks ago, as I was surfing YouTube, I came across some videos of people playing a very unique, never been seen before instrument. As I researched more about it, the more mezmorized I got. The instrument is called the "Hang Drum" (pronounced as "hung"). It's a 8-9 note instrument that sounds very close to a steel drum. The most unique part of the instrument is the fact that you play it with your hands, as opposed to a steel drum that essentially requires sticks or small mallets. You have so much room to either be melodic, percussive, or both when you play it. Since it is a relatively new instrument, there is really no right way of playing the thing. A picture of the 1st and 2nd generation Hang Drums are below.

Apparently, these instruments are very hard to acquire. They are made by two Bermese gentlemen in Switzerland. Currently, you can only purchase one by sending snail mail to the creators. And if they like you, you are allowed to come visit them at a set time 6 months to a year from their response. You get to stay a few days at their workshop, while they custom make a Hang Drum for you. If you look at eBay, Hang Drums are being auctioned there from anywhere between $3,000.00 to $8,000.00 USD. So imagine my disappointment when I heard of it's cost or the alternative difficulty to even get invited to purchase one by the creators.

So until Hang Drums are more accessible and cheaper, I am essentially just an admirer of the instrument and the skilled musicians who play it. One particular artist named, Manu Delago, is by the far, the most skilled Hang Drum player I have come across on the Net. A picture of him playing two 1st generation Hang Drums is below.

First of all, Manu has TWO Hang Drums. The creators have a one Hang Drum per buyer policy. So it's amazing that Manu managed to even own two of them. He is essentially a skilled keyboardist among other instruments before he started specializing on the Hang Drum. He has about 1-2 independent albums out that he sells on his website. If only I had access to a credit card, I'd get his albums in a heartbeat. So for now, I will just have to contend with the few videos that Manu does have on YouTube. One particular video he posted on YouTube has captured my soul eversince I first watched/listenend to it. The YouTube video is below. It is Manu Delago performing a piece he calls "Mono Desire".

I might be going a little overboard on how I feel about Manu's song. But the piece so moved me that it's as if, through Manu's melodies fused with percussive elements, he was trying to tell me that I'm doing fine. But also reminds me that I have so far to go. One of many sleepless nights that I've had, I listened to his song over and over. I was so full of emotion that I had to let it out somehow. So I wrote a song/poem of how I felt that night. Here is what I wrote:

by Aldous Castro
I just want to sleep
End my misery for the day
This unfounded misery of mine
because I always forget
that I'm lucky where I am in life

The endless loop
of the sounds of hang
begging myself to close my eyes
and give my heart a rest
the soft tones
borderline between percussive and melodic
reminds me where I am
and how far I have to go
the tap of a finger
multiply into a field
that envelops you in its arms
squeezing discomfort that is felt
amongst comforts of the world

It's a first draft and crappily written. I just thought I'd share it. Hopefully, I'll get around to tightening up the lyrics and possibly even write music for it. But for now, it's just an expression of how I felt that night while listening to Manu's song. Thanks for the song, Manu. It has eeringly helped me through many dark and sleepless nights.


No comments: