At the end of the night recently I found myself sitting cross-legged with something that looks like a metal UFO sitting on my lap. We had come back to a friend’s house after a night out and, during a lull in the conversation, he produced an unusual looking metal drum, similar in tone and character to a Caribbean steel drum. This beautiful musical toy was in fact a “hang drum” (pronounced “haang”) and despite it’s appearance and tone, is a very modern instrument, first designed and manufactured in Switzerland in the 1990s. Slapping or tapping the different divots around the outside of the metal drum produce different tones within a scale, rich with harmonics.
I decided I should sample the instrument, and brought a few mics, my laptop and interface round to my friend John’s house. I had John play each note around the drum at increasing velocities (quietest through moderate, to hardest), using the flat of his hand, his knuckle or a rubber mallet, so as to capture a variety of tonal characters. I recorded each strike using an AKG C414B and Beyerdynamic M160, using the mid/side micing technique which produces a recording with a wide stereo image, but which also sums perfectly to mono.
The result is a great sounding virtual instrument which is very easy to play. All the notes are tuned and harmonically sympathetic with each other so you can pretty much mash the keyboard and something interesting will emerge.
Hang Drum Multisampled Instrument for Kontakt is available for free. Download size is 147 MB.