The first thing that comes to many people’s minds when they hear Stonehang is Stonehenge. The assonance is obvious and that is one of the reasons I chose this name, but the very origin of the name is much more complex than that and finds his roots in the word “hang” which in the Swiss dialect Bernese means “hand”. Therefore, the name literally means Stone-Hand. Indeed the only tool I have to build my stone compositions are my hands.
I am not fluent in any Bernese dialect, and I only came to know the word “hang” recently, which is a fascinating and long story that started many years ago in Barcelona. I was still an Erasum student at the time and one day, while walking in parc Guell, I met a street artist playing an instrument I had never seen before. It was making the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. I knew then I wanted to get one and learn how to play it as soon as possible. The next day, I went searching for it in every possible music shop in Barcelona but no one had any idea what I was talking about. I searched on the Internet, music magazines, asked anyone that might know, but no one had any clue about it. It was only years later I saw the instrument again. Again a street artist, but this time in front of the Pompidou museum in Paris, where I was working at the time. I couldn’t believe it, after 5 years here it was again, just as I remembered it, with its enchanting and hypnotizing sound. I patiently waited for the artist to be done with the song he was playing and as soon as I could I asked him what is this? Where did you find it? How can I get one?
He answered with a smile. The instrument is called “hangdrum” (because in Bernese dialect hang means hand) and the only way to get one was to convince the only two people in the world producing it to make one for you. Nowadays it is practically impossible to get, and it is still one of the dreams I have in my life. I recently found a similar instrument inspired by the hangdrum called the hang-tongue drum, which I am learning how to play while waiting for the real thing. Hopefully this website will unveil the secret and open the door to find the real hangdrum!