Sunday, January 19, 2014

Handpan Diary #8: A New Beginning (Chromatic Spacedrum)

This is the first ever composition using the newest addition to my handpan family, 13 Note Chromatic Spacedrum.  This new year, there are a lot of changes and new things that entered my life.  I started my new job at a advertising/marketing production company.  Gigging will be a lot less frequent given my newness to the job and the work shift I have to put in.  My funds have been drained from months of unemployment.  So I have yet to see the light of day with my finances (I don't get a paycheck until the end of the month).  All this frightens me to a certain extent primarily because I'm a creature of habit.  All my past routines and supposed constants from last year have been broken apart.  Now I'm trying to rebuild a new way of life.  We shall see how this year pans out.

Pardon the length of the this particular composition.  I wanted to write something that sounded a little like a music box.  As well as something that I can play over and over again that lightens any weight I would feel in my heart.

Given that I have more than one kind of handpan now.  I have renamed my handpan video series to Handpan Diary instead of Bali Steel Pan Diary.  My next composition will hopefully integrate both my Spacedrum and one of my Bali Steel handpans.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Book of Tyrael and 13 Note Chromatic Spacedrum have Arrived!

Last Friday, I met up with my friend Kenny for lunch.  So he can hand over to me my copy of the Book of Tyrael.  The book is technically the sequel to the Book of Cain that Kenny previously bought for me.  Both books were hardbound and nicely printed.  My interest in these books is how they depict Diablo lore (Diablo 1/2/3 are Action RPG games developed by Blizzard Games for those of you who don't know.).

When I got home after lunch, I saw a customs notice in my mailbox.  It was a notice that indicated that my 13 Note Chromatic Spacedrum handpan has arrived and was ready for pick-up.  I was supposed to leave for work soon after lunch.  But I decided to speed off to the post office first to pick up my Spacedrum.  I usually came in early for work with over an hour to spare.  Normally, I would burn that time enjoying a cup of coffee at the nearby Starbucks or CBTL.  But I decided to forego the coffee ritual that day.

Upon arriving at the post office, I was surprised that they cleaned the place up a bit.  The inside walls were all repainted.  There is generally less junk in the area.  The process of claiming my new handpan was the same as the last two times.  But I was afraid how much the customs tax would be.  The maker of this latest handpan specifically indicated the amount I paid for the handpan.  So I expected customs would levy a hefty tax on it.  The resulting tax amount was indeed hefty.  But not as hefty as I expected.  So I gladly paid for tax amount and post office fee.  I got into a cab and lugged my Spacedrum back home.

As soon as I put the box containing my Spacedrum down in my apartment, I instinctively headed out the door to head for work.  But I stopped midway through my door, looked back at the large box.  In a split second, I decided to spare a few minutes to open the box and at least take a gander at my new toy.

I opened the box and saw that my Spacedrum came with a blue carrying bag.  The site where I purchased the handpan from indicated a grey/brown colored bag.  So I was pleasantly surprised that the bag was actually a nicer looking blue color.  I unzipped the bag and pulled the handpan out.  The handpan was smaller than what I had imagined.  It seems much larger when I watch videos of people playing with the same particular handpan.  There was a rubber ring covering the edges.  I assume the ring is to dampen the notes when played.  The finish was what I expected; a smooth brownish copper tinge all over.  I did see some minor scratches which I assume was from the last minute tuning they did before they sent the handpan to me.  Overall, it was a very pretty handpan.  I sat my Spacedrum on my bed and headed to work.  I knew if I started playing it, that I would get sucked in and actually be late for work.  So I left for the office, went through my work day, and quickly headed back home to my Spacedrum.

I tried all the notes one by one and notice that Spacedrums definitely resonate differently from Bali Steel handpans.  My Spacedrum has damper sounding notes.  But I still thought the notes would ring nicely nonetheless.  I played around with it for a while and quickly realized that this was indeed a full chromatic scale that I expected; 13 notes from C4 to C5.  My two Bali Steel handpans were each a specific key and scale.  So hitting any string of notes will always relate to each other.  With a full chromatic scale, you can no longer just randomly hit notes.  I knew that I would need to learn actual scales in order to play my Spacedrum well.  I did manage to create the beginnings of a possible composition without learning any scales yet.  But I need to play around with it more before I can complete the composition.  I will try to record a video of me playing that composition when it's finished.

I have a few things to post about from my experiences last year (i.e. My band Jack Versus the Crab's album launch, my recent Cluster Headaches, etc.).  But I felt I needed to blog about my the latest addition to my handpan family first.  My family is now three strong.  One more handpan, and I could give them a name each from the Ninja Turtles. LOL.  I don't have the funds to buy another handpan so soon.  I need to ease into my new job and start earning paychecks before anything else.  But I would like to have another handpan someday.  Here's hoping my 4th handpan would be a Pantheon Steel Halo.  I'm waiting on their lottery for this year, to get a chance to buy one.

Of course, I have to post a family photo.  Below the picture is a list of all my handpans in descending order of when I got them.  I have indicated which one is which on the photo as well.

Bali Steel Pan (Minor Pentatonic) [Lower Left]
Bali Steel Pan (D-Minor) [Upper Left]
Spacedrum (13 Note Chromatic) [Right]

My handpan journey continues with a new addition to my handpan arsenal.  The start of this year is definitely a time of many firsts and new things in life (i.e. new job, less gigging with bands due to work shift, trying to reach financial stability, etc.).  There will be a period of adjustment to say the least.  I admit it does frighten me a little.  The compositions I create will  reflect all these changes adjustments in my life.  Hopefully, that musical curiosity will dampen the slight fear and make this year exciting.