Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

July 17, 2013

Making metal music

In the park, a man sits holding two large oval metal pans, one on top of the other, pounding and tapping along the top. It is an unusual sight as is the sound, which is bell-like but tropical.

TAHLEQUAH — In the park, a man sits holding two large oval metal pans, one on top of the other, pounding and tapping along the top. It is an unusual sight as is the sound, which is bell-like but tropical.

That man is Bob Taylor.

When a friend sent Taylor a YouTube video of someone playing a hand pan, he was fascinated. Now, hand pans have become a passion for the local musician.

“After seeing the video, I really wanted one, but couldn’t afford it. They’re hard to come by unless you’re on a four-year waiting list, can travel to Switzerland and have about $5,000,” Taylor said.

The hand pans are known as “panart” here. The original creators are in Switzerland and call theirs “Hang” (pronounced “hong”). There are now about 10 people, including Taylor, who make them.

He bought two 55-gallon drum barrels and started hammering in about April 2011.

“I built several shields in the process that made no musical sounds, but I kept trying. I got more barrels and learned a little more each time,” he said.

After 30 tries, he’s built five he’d actually call instruments, and keeps making improvements.

“I’ve kept two and I’m about to finish another one,” he said. “The others I’ve turned into planters, shields, a bird bath and fire pit.”

Once he felt like he was on the right track, he and his dad got sheet metal to make the hand pans, and have built special tools and clamps to use.

“It’s been a non-stop project, a trial-and-error process. I’m 95 percent there,” Taylor said. “They say it takes about two years to make an instrument, and I’m close to being able to offer them on the world market.”

A friend in Russia he met on the Internet has offered suggestions along the way.

“Victor, in Russia, has given me a few pointers when I got frustrated,” Taylor said. “He’s been building about six years.”

Unlike a drum cymbal, hand pans can only be hand-built because you’re balancing the stress and tension in the metal, so you can’t mass-produce.

“When you’re hammering, carbon hardens the metal,” he said.

“To machine one, you can get the shape in 5 or 10 minutes, but there’s no sound. Sound takes about a quarter of a million hammer strikes.”

A hand pan is tuned to the scale and Taylor can put them in any scale you want.

“Now I roughly have a two octave scale,” he said. “All I’ve built are in A sharp. I’m working to get them down to a D.”

He’s now having some tools custom-built.

“When they’re done, I’ll be able to get more accurate and deeper sounds,” he said.

With a commitment to quality, Taylor takes his time with each hand pan.

“I’m not in a hurry. I have about 100 hours in each one, but eventually I’ll get it down to about 40 hours,” Taylor said.

He started making them because he wanted one. Now his goal is to produce them for friends at a reduced rate, who will play them.

“I saw one go on eBay for $15,000, but that was probably a collector, not a musician,” he said.

Eventually, he plans to sell on eBay, but at a rate musicians can afford.

“I love the sounds of a hand pan, the musical overtones. There’s eight or nine notes on each pan, but each note has three tones in it. You can play harmonies and get about 24 actual tones,” explained Taylor.

“It sounds like a bell, but a more warm, mellow sound.”

In Europe and on the East Coast, they have annual gatherings of hand pan enthusiasts, he said. It’s a goal of his to attend one, and perhaps in the future host one here.

“One step at a time,” he said.

Text Only
Local News
  • sr-NSU-Earth-day.jpg NSU students observe Earth Day

    Students and members of the community converged on Northeastern State University’s Second Century Square on Tuesday to spend an afternoon celebrating Earth Day.
    The event featured tables sponsored by campus organizations, prizes and music by Chris Espinoza. NSU’s Earth Day theme was “Gather Here. Go Green,” and was organized by the Committee for Sustainability and the Northeastern Student Government Association (NSGA).

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-smallholders-courtesy.jpg Rural smallholders host annual show

    More and more, many people are showing growing interest in learning the sources of their food, including meat. As such, interest in farm-to-table living is increasing.
    Saturday, the Rural Smallholders Association held its annual spring show at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds, promoting the farming of sheep and goats, along with giving the general public a sample of their products.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • pitts-hurley.jpg Wanted man nabbed during traffic stop

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies arrested a wanted man this week after a traffic stop near South Muskogee and Willis Road.
    Hurley D. Pitts, 40, was being sought by authorities on a motion to revoke a previous sentence.
    Sheriff’s Deputy Jarrick Snyder said he stopped a car after it ran off the road a couple of times. A woman was behind the wheel, and Pitts was sitting in the passenger seat.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-Wikafile.jpg Communiversity Band performs Sunday

    Musicians from on and off the Northeastern State University campus have made their final preparations for an upcoming performance of the NSU Communiversity Band.
    The ensemble performs Sunday, April 27, at 7 p.m., in the NSU Center for the Performing Arts. The conductor is Dr. Norman Wika, associate professor of music and band program director. Guest conductor is student Kameron Parmain. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
    “Everything has come together very well this semester,” Wika said.
    “We have about 40 musicians, and everyone who started the rehearsals has stuck with it. This could be the best Community Band concert yet.”

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council concerned over reports of land contamination

    Negotiations involving the purchase of nearly 20 homes on 7 acres of land near Basin Avenue hit a snag Monday night when concerns surfaced over potential contamination of the area.
    Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols had proposed the city purchase the homes and duplexes as a large step in a greenbelt project, which would establish a solid park and trail system from the downtown area to the site of the city’s old solid waste transfer station.
    Until Monday, details of the negotiations had been mostly discussed behind closed doors, though Nichols confirmed the list price for the property to be $480,000.

    April 23, 2014

  • Council tables cell tower permit apps

    Tahlequah city councilors on Monday opted to hold off on approval of two special-use permit applications that would help AT&T install a couple of 150-foot cell towers within the city.
    Branch Communications is asking for the permits as it attempts to construct two monopole cell towers – one on Commercial Road near Green Country Funeral Home, and another at the Tahlequah Public Schools bus barn on Pendleton Street. Other towers are being built outside of the city limits.
    Members of the city’s planning and zoning board gave their OK for both permits last month.

    April 23, 2014

  • SR-WalkaMile1.jpg Walk a Mile 2014

    Men squeezed into feminine footwear Saturday by the hundreds to walk in solidarity with women on the issue of sexual violence – and their clop-clop-clopping echoed down Muskogee Avenue.
    The fourth annual “Walk a Mile In Her Shoes” brought men to Norris Park, accompanied by their enthusiastic female supporters, to walk – and often wobble – in high heels over a mile-long course to raise funds for Help-In-Crisis.
    “It hurts every year,” said John Christie, a Sequoyah High School student participating in his third Walk a Mile. “I get home, sit down, blisters come up and the calves hurt. But it is worth it. It’s for a good cause.”

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • adams-christopher.jpg Michigan man gets 13 years on plea to rape, sodomy of girl

    A 28-year-old Michigan man will spend about 13 years in an Oklahoma state prison after pleading guilty to four counts of first-degree rape and one count of sodomy involving a 13-year-old girl.
    Christopher Dale Adams, of Lake Orion, Mich., received a 13-year prison sentence for each of the five charges, to be followed by seven years suspended. All sentences will run concurrently.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • logan-amy.jpg Police take down pair on pot distribution charge

    Tahlequah police officers arrested a pair Sunday night for allegedly possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it.
    Tahlequah Officer Cody Warren said police were asked to investigate when 35-year-old Amy N. Logan, of Tahlequah, allegedly took a family member’s car without permission.
    While Warren was speaking with the owners of the vehicle, Logan arrived along with 26-year-old Theoplilus James Mollie, of Tulsa.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • land-lisa.jpg Two nailed with meth, pot hidden in bag of chips

    Two people were arrested early Monday morning when Tahlequah police stopped a vehicle near Basin Avenue and found methamphetamine and marijuana hidden in a bag of chips.
    Tahlequah Officer Cory Keele said he noticed a Nissan heading north on Park Hill Road, and the vehicle later stopped in an intersection.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo


How confident are you that the immunizations for infants and children are reasonably safe?

Not at all confident.
Somewhat confident.
Relatively confident.
Extremely confident.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video