London-based musician Daniel Waples left the audience at Heart Cup Coffee mesmerised with his mystical music instrument.
The unusual euphony coming out from what looked like a flying saucer, being gently tapped by the maestro held the gathering under a hypnotic charm. Apart from his entertaining and humorous rapport, it was this instrument called Handpan or Hang which was the highlight of the evening. Daniel Waples is known to be one of world’s premier and the best Handpan artistes. Excerpts from an exclusive chat.
What is Hang or Handpan?
The Hang is a percussion instrument invented in Switzerland in the year 2000 by Felix Rohner and Sabrina Scharer, but the term Handpan is a much more fitting term to the instrument, whereas Hang is more of a brand name. Handpan is the latest generation of the Hang family.
Encountering the instrument
After playing snare drum, African percussion and the guitar for years, in 2007, I came across the Handpan which was a beautiful blend of percussion and melody, and I must say it has become the source of my lifeline now.
Getting ‘the Hang’ of it
In the early days, I was able to experiment and teach myself how to play. I didn’t really care about studio recordings or on-stage performances, I was happy playing on the streets. One day, I came across a video of mine on YouTube, it had 60-70 views; about a year or two later, the same video had 2.5 million views. So, at that point, I realised that I could make something substantial out of this.
From busking to international gigs
The journey has been long and fun. In fact, I was a very shy kid, and I just could not perform in front of crowds, after my busking videos on YouTube, slowly but surely, I have been invited to play in gigs, and now I have travelled to over 50 countries showcasing my music.
Source of inspiration
I grew up listening to the likes of Guns N Roses and Nirvana, so I mostly played hard rock on the guitar. I have always been more curved towards melody and riffs. The music I play on Handpan does have a lot of West African and classical music influence to it.
On special connections with India
I feel that I am closely connected to the Indian culture. I got to say that the spices, the gods, the culture grew on me. My music on the Handpan and my connection with India go hand-in-hand. I came to India with my Handpan, and I didn’t know how to play it then. So, if you’d ask me where I learnt the Handpan, I’d say that I’ve learnt it on the hills of Hampi and the beaches of Gokarna and Goa.