December 21st, 2011 Posted in Headlights | 6 Comments »
In the last couple of years I have learned a great deal about the musical subculture surrounding steel hand pan drums. My coworker, RP, and the many friends he has made in this subculture are to thank for the knowledge I have acquired. While professionally-made hand pan drums exist and can now be purchased from artists in several countries, many people have learned to construct and tune their own homemade “hank” drums in which the shell of a propane tank is used as the resonator. One could think of these drums as an inverted version of the steel pans that originate in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, but their deeper tone and use of a (typically) single scale make them sound a lot more like wind chimes (at least to my ears).
RP has built such hank drums, and earlier this year he lent me one to use in experimental recordings:
Since that time I have actually acquired my own hank drum that was custom-built and painted for me by a friend in Fort Collins, Colorado. You can expect some recordings to be made with this instrument in the future:
If you would like more information on drums like the one I own, please visit the Xplosive Percussion website.
I was inspired to name the song “Anchor for the Soul” after reading verses from the book of Hebrews in the Bible and realizing that the structure of the song could be interpreted as a metaphor for the concepts discussed in the verses. Hebrews 6:18-19 says, “These two things cannot change: God cannot lie when He makes a promise, and He cannot lie when He makes an oath. These things encourage us who come to God for safety. They give us strength to hold on to the hope we have been given. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and strong.”
The hank drum pattern is consistent; it is simultaneously the melody and the rhythmic backbone of the song. The same single note, a low E from the hank drum, both begins and ends the song. Throughout the composition instruments come and go and the musical layers intertwine, but the hank drum never falters. In this regard, it represents the concept of the anchor for the soul — a hope that is sure and strong.
“Anchor for the Soul” can be streamed below and from the Original music playlist on the Music page.