While turning a street corner, you see a crowd encircling some guy with a handpan drum and you hear the enchanting melody that captivates all the passersby. Applause, the amazed gazes and happy smiles of the listeners – that’s what the street handpan musician gets.
Would you like to follow in the footsteps of the street handpan musician? Then here’s a guide on how to become a successful street handpan musician.
Things to know before you start
Handpans and steel drums are played by a lot of street musicians. Their sound is unique and intriguing. Handpans are compact instruments that can easily be transported and don’t require any special equipment (let’s be practical, it’s hard to imagine a harp or a fortepiano player performing on the street). Handpans are still considered to be relatively new items and consequently they instantly pick up the attention of the crowd.
Whether you’re an experienced handpan player or just on your way to start, you may have considered street performance. Busking is a great way to practise, improve your skills, and beat the fear of public appearance. Needless to say, it’s also a good way to earn some money (and good street musicians earn A LOT).
Secrets of street musicians that no one knows
Even if your goal isn’t raking in a ton of money, you’d like for your street-playing experience to be positive and to get great feedback from the audience.
Set up in a busy place so that more people can hear you. Choose locations with high foot traffic. Pedestrian streets or squares with a number of restaurants, cafes, shops and tourist attractions will obviously be a good choice. Try them all to find the best one for playing.
Remember to keep your voice heard. If you play in a really busy place, you might need a mic as the sound of handpans and tongue drums is soft and can be muffled by the noise of the crowd. You can switch to playing with mallets as this technique helps to produce a louder sound.
When playing on the street, an unusual and creative appearance can do a lot. Choosing a spectacular-looking instrument like the RAV Vast, for example, can put some extra wind in your sails. Most handpans have a dark bronze color, are quite big, and have dimples all around the drum’s surface. Getting a drum that stands out will help you bear fruit. Take a look at the RAV Vast drum, which has a whimsical shape, beautifully carved tongues, and a bright deep blue color that catches the eye.
Which instrument do you choose?
And this is perhaps the most important question. Out of so many instruments available for sale like the Hang, tongue drum, opsilon handpan, tank drum, how do you choose the best one for playing on the street? You’ll generally be choosing between a tongue drum and a handpan.
The tongue drum is very close to the handpan as both are percussion instruments. Both are steel drums and sound pretty similar. However, their musical characteristics are different.
The tongue drum is quite robust and will work better for playing outside as it’s resistant to both cold and heat. Tongue drums also produce a more sustained sound. In the case of the RAV Vast, it also has a great number of balanced overtones and the harmonious tuning crucial to a street player – you can improvise for a long time without worrying about the sound – the melody will always be harmonious.
Now let’s move on to choosing the scale. There are a few approaches to choosing the best hand drum for street playing.
- Choose versatile scales to be able to perform different types of melodies
- Choose exotic captivating scales to sound unusual
If you want to create a great variety of melodies to please everyone’s ear, opt for scales that have an option to play in both major and minor mode. If you’re choosing among the RAV drums, take a look at the B RUS, which perfectly satisfies this criterion. The sound of this drum is easy and simple. You can choose between joyful and moody melodies and easily switch between them. This drum is also a great choice for beginners, so get it if you’re still learning to play the tongue drum.
If you’re looking for something special, take a look at the E Low Pygmy RAV Vast. This drum produces a very low velvety sound with a mysterious mood. Its sound is so deep that it can be felt as low vibrations not only in the musician’s body, but also in those who are listening to it.
If you’re a fan of oriental sound, try the B Arabian Nights or B Onoleo RAV drums. They will create an ambient of sweet and exotic fairy tales of 1001 nights. These 3 drums were designed for the experienced musician who will be able to reveal and demonstrate all the capabilities of these instruments. The brand provides many other scale options as well and pretty much all of them are suitable for street playing. Take a look at those and choose one that tickles your fancy.
Whether you just play on the street as a hobby or take it as a serious job, never forget to enjoy the very process of playing. Street performance is not just a great way to upgrade your playing skills, but also have a great time playing the lovely handpan.