ABOUT THE INSTRUMENT MAKERS
Chris Andersen, musician, instrument builder and designer, started traveling to Bali, in 2001, because of his interest in traditional gamelan music. While visiting he fell in love with the small village of Manuk. It was there that he met Ketut Suda and Ngenah Resna, local rice farmers and musicians. They would later become his partners in building Bali Steel Pan.
Noticing the numerous oil drums in the village, he mentioned to his Balinese friend that he plays an instrument made from oil drums known as the Steel Pan. An instrument like this sounded unbelievable to his friend, so on his next trip Chris decided to bring his steel pan to Bali. This amazed the people of of the village, which led to the idea of making steel pans in Manuk. This was incredible for Chris, because it was his dream to combine his love of the steel pan and gamelan music. It was an opportunity to build a steel pan gamelan.
After many years of learning to build steel pans, Chris, Ketut Suda and Nenug Rusna were successful. They completed a traditional 32 note chromatic steel pan. They practiced using very traditional steel pan techniques and doing all the hammering by hand. Eventually they began to creating 10 note steel pans tuned to traditional Indonesian scales. This was much more their interest as they could play music on it that was more familiar to them.
It was suggested that they try inverting these steel pans, so they could play them like the Hang drum. This was a completely new instrument for all of them. They decided to try it and in 2009 they had made their first hand pan.
They used the same building techniques that they had learned building steel pans. These instruments were chromed and had notes shaped just the same as a steel pan. As their research on hand pans continued, they eventually tried incorporating the dimple in the center of each note. After this success, they really fell in love with hand pans. The dimple, known as moncol in Balinese, is a concept used in Balinese gongs. This really resonated with them. At first they concentrated on asian and traditional Indonesian scales.
In 2016 they started to move away from making hand pans from oil drums and started using thicker better quality steel. Although the building material has altered, the same group of original makers continue to build these instruments by hand in the small village of Manuk.