Dr. Ellie Mannette tuning one of the first TerraPan prototypes
The TerraPan is a type of steel percussion musical instrument inspired by the HANG® by PANArt Hangbau AG. Founded by Felix Roehner and Sabina Schärer, PANArt introduced the world to the HANG® in 2000. People desiring one of these unique sound sculptures had to participate in a discrete and uniquely personal application process requiring buyers to travel to PANArt’s studio in Bern, Switzerland, upon being selected to receive an instrument. Prior to the formation of PANArt, Felix built steel drums, and many enthusiasts identify the steel drum as a relative of the HANG®. In this sense, TerraTōnz’s existence is thanks in part to both Felix and the innovator of the steel drum Dr. Ellie Mannette.
Born in 1926 in Trinidad, Dr. Ellie Mannette, the father of singing steel, invented the modern steel drum after experimenting with empty oil barrels discarded by a local military base. His work came at a time when the global desire for singing steel was high. The Trinidad All Steel Percussive Orchestra introduced his instruments to Great Britain, and the United States invited Ellie to make the US Navy Steel Band. Ellie’s enduring contributions to the history of music have since been honored by the Smithsonian Institute and the Hall of Fame of the Percussive Arts Society of the United States. He also received the NEO National Heritage Fellowship Award and Hummingbird Medal of Trinidad and Tobago. In 1991, Ellie settled in Morgantown, West Virginia, after spending one semester as a guest instructor at the local university. Ellie’s experience teaching inspired him to further develop an initiative called The University Tuning Project, which sparked the eventual formation of Mannette Musical Instruments.
Following his decision to create the TerraPan, TerraTōnz's founder Christopher Ryan began seeking professional guidance and artistic support. He contacted Mannette Musical Instruments directly and became the first maker to connect HANG®-inspired instruments with their steel pan heritage.
The "Handpan Community" consists of the makers, musicians and enthusiasts who recognize the word “handpan” as a general term to describe all HANG®-inspired steel percussion instruments, and who celebrate these instruments primarily via gatherings, such as Hang Out, and the online forum Handpan.org. As addressed in the original Path to Pan Story, TerraTōnz became a subject of controversy within the "Handpan Community" following our first consistent production cycle of TerraPans in 2013. This experience allowed us to better define define ourselves and grow.
Upon accepting our rebel status outside the traditional HandPan Community, TerraTōnz was excited to meet and collaborate with the musician Daniel Waples. At once a community favorite and an outsider on his own terms, Daniel Waples launched the Waples 9 Signature Series with TerraTōnz in December 2014 creating a limited number pans. The signature series allowed people to purchase signed TerraPans directly from Daniel.
In August 2016, Daniel and TerraTōnz agreed to discontinue the Signature Series. In honor of this new direction we have renamed the tuning to D Aeolian (9 Note).
While we are grateful for the opportunity to have worked closely with Daniel in our past, we are also embracing the opportunities which ending the signature series has offered us. We are now free to focus on developing a more diverse range of tunings for an increasingly dynamic group of artists.
With everyone we've met along our path, we state :
Whether you have brought adversity, advocacy or some combination of the two, we are sincerely thankful. Positive Vibes of Love & Light to ALL. Regarding quality: as always, we prefer for our instruments to speak for themselves and we ask that you view our most recent videos. We also invite you to share your songs with us and to learn more about emerging TerraPan artists via the monthly features in our newsletter. Thank you!