Friday, June 28, 2013

Bali Steel Pan Diary #6: Restless Obscurity

I normally just treat each home recorded handpan video I upload to YouTube like a blog post.  But this time I decided to mirror it here.  So don't be surprised if the video's description on YouTube is the same as this blog post.

I wrote this particular composition as an outlet for the state of limbo that my head has been in lately.  That feeling where you don't really know what you feel.  I'm restless about something unknown.  Although, there is absolutely nothing plaguing me in my life.  I am lucky in my current life situation; luckier than most.  And again there is nothing going wrong at the moment. But why do I feel like there's something missing.

The handpan I used here is a Bali Steel Pan handpan. The sound model is a Minor Pentatonic: (F) Bb C# Eb F G# Bb C# Eb


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bali Steel Handpan Review

This was actually a response to a fellow member of a handpan community forum. He was excited yet apprehensive about acquiring a handpan from Bali Steel. Other forum members responded with their feedback about this particular handpan variant. But I felt I needed to give a longer review for the guy to consider. Here is my forum post response.

I have two Bali Steel handpans (Minor Pentatonic and D Minor). And I love them both. I do have some gripes.

Size - It's one of the larger handpans out there. So playing it on your lap while sitting on a chair feels a little unstable, like it might fall off. But this could just be because I'm not a very big person to begin with. Hehehe. Each Bali Steel handpan isn't exact in their dimensions. The maker says they're all the same size. But I've noticed that my D Minor is flatter compared to my Minor Pentatonic. Not a big deal really. But there is a slight difference.

Central Ding is Fragile - Stuff like ding-bending isn't advisable to do on a Bali Steel handpan. The ding has been known to detune itself if you do any ding-bending on it. I've seen 1-2 videos on YouTube where Bali Steel owners showed how their ding has detuned. The ding is sturdy enough, in my opinion. But I certainly won't try ding-bending.

Tuning - Tuning seems correct on both my Bali Steels. I've checked them against several electronic and analog tuners. Although, there's always at least one note on each handpan that "warbles". The note is correct. But there's an oscillating sound that is more prominent when you strike those particular notes simultaneously with others.

Those three things are about the only thing I can say about my Bali Steel handpans. I am very happy with both. Some of the bigger selling posts of Bali Steel handpans are as follows:

Handpan Texture Finish - I love the "teflon"-like finish. The coating doesn't require you to maintain the handpans compared to other handpans where they encourage you to regularly oil and wipe down their handpans at least once a month. The downside of the finish is it will scratch off if you're not careful. So I suggest you have a custom bag made to avoid unnecessary bumps or scratches.

Geographical Location of Maker - I live in Manila, Philippines. I probably have even lesser access to Hangs and handpans than most of you. Aside from all the long wait lists and expensive purchase costs, the additional shipping and customs fees make it harder for me to obtain handpans. Bali Steel is probably the closest to me geographically. They are such a joy to deal with (Thank you Chris!). They are very responsive to inquiries and requests when you email them.

Intrinsic Asian Tone - Regardless of what scale you choose from Bali Steel, their handpans intrinsically have an Asian feel to the tone of the notes. I picked Minor Pentatonic and D Minor specifically because those are Western scales that I can integrate into my bands. But my Bali Steels still sound uniquely Asian to people. I think this is coming from the fact that Bali Steel was primarily a Gamelan/Ganza maker. And their experience in working with steel from that translated into the sound of their handpans.

Hope this helps make you feel better about your Bali Steel purchase. Do tells us all about your adventures with yours. I would love to hear them.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

May 2013 = Concert Month

The month of May was filled with good acts coming to Manila to do concerts.  Given how rarely good bands come to the Philippine these days, I didn't want to miss out on all the good music.  In one month, I watched Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Aerosmith, and Jason Mraz (full band setup).  It was an expensive month to say the least because good seats for most of those concerts came at a premium.

Below are a few pictures and videos I took from each of the concerts.  I uploaded more videos from the concerts more than what I've embedded on this post.  Just look through my YouTube channel for more videos from those concerts.

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators
(SMART Araneta Coliseum)

Slash - Sweet Child O' Mine

Slash - Welcome to the Jungle

I actually think the bassist was a better vocalist than Myles Kennedy.  He had all the glam clichet moves down pat.  Right down to the short grunt he made at the end of Welcome to the Jungle.  Amusingly entertaining.

Slash - Paradise City

Generally, I would still rather watch these Guns 'n Roses songs with the original line-up.  But it seems whatever it is between Axl and Slash is irreparable.  Still fun to watch Slash do exactly the same guitar parts for songs that I love for years.  And his band seemed very tight.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Lobby security guard buzzes my intercom.

Guard: Ser rupus.
Me: What?
Guard: Rupus ser.
Me: Oh, Rufo's....