A while ago I started to collect small melodic and percussion instruments for fun, starting with some shakers, a sansula, some kazoo’s and now a Klangauge. So what is it? Basically it’s a metallic slit drum, somewhat inspired by the sound and playability of the steel handpan called a Hang instrument. It’s also somewhat reminiscent of the Caribbean sounds of a steel drum. It’s easily compared to the Hapi drum.
In my search for the percussion instrument of my dreams I fell in love with the Hang drum. Sadly the original Hang drum isn’t available anymore and comparable models from others have either a long waiting list (or raffle) or sound less ideal. Let alone the pricing of most handpans. So I turned to the metallic slit drums, or to my knowledge then Hapi drums. Having touched a few Hapi drums, I felt a bit disappointed by the sounds coming from the instrument. After a bit of researching I came across the Berlin based Klangauge. There are just a few sound samples on their website, and youtube video’s are usually of poor quality mostly due to the instrument being difficult to record. However, what I liked what I heard on the few sound examples, so I started a search on where to find the instrument to try it out. This search led to nowhere, the instrument isn’t really known in my country. I was able to find a music store Dijkman muziek in Amsterdam, but that’s the other side of the country for me.
I decided to just order the instrument directly at the Klangauge store and after a small (on forehand announced) shipping delay of a few days and some personal emails from Jörg Künstler 4 days ago the package got delivered. My new toy has arrived! Christmas arrived early.
The package was fully complete and the instrument was protected with foam and a good sturdy box. Inside the box was my Black E-Minor Pentatonic pretuned Klangauge, a felt bag, felt ring for resting the instrument on, set of mallets, a set of extra tuning magnets, the korg chromatic ca-1 tuner, a small manual, sticker and different tunings to go with the tuning magnets. Do note, everything is available as a single package, but if you want the extra tuning magnets you must add it to your basket seperately.
One of the charms of the Klangauge is that you can retune it to a different scale with the extra magnets, while I still have to delf into tuning and retuning this is one of the things that led me to buy this instrument. Having played for a few days now I can say that I really love the sound coming from the instrument. The lower tongues have a bit more metallic can sound to it, but I think that will sound better when retuning. The upper tones ore crisp and at some times even bell like. It’s easy to play with mallets and with your hands and everybody can pick it up quite easily if they want to, it’s a very hands on instrument.
This type of instrument is difficult to record, but I have had success on my first try when positioning a single Shure PG57 mic about 45 cm above the sound hole. I would love to start combining recordings with a set of bongo’s and my sansula, it has the potential to create really great soundscapes.