2014 has been a very busy year for the Saraz Crew. Evolution, development, research and design seem endless in this art form. For the last six months, we have focused on refining our note architecture and forming methods. We are excited to now be using our fourth generation of note forms. It took us over 130 instruments to develop our preferred shape, depth and size of 25 different dimples as well as find exactly where to place a well defined note border on each of the 25 notes that we offer in our range. Precision is very important because even a few millimeters from ideal can create significant problems during tuning as well as alter the timbre and balance of a note and overall instrument.
We have also returned to exploring fully hammer shaped instruments and are now offering the option to everyone on our waiting list to chose between having their Saraz built on rolled shells fabricated by Pantheon Steel or on fully hammer shaped shells fabricated by the Saraz Crew. The subtle differences in tone and timbre are addressed on the Q&A page of our website.
Due to our focus on research and development over the last 5 months, our production has been much slower than we expected for 2014. One of the most difficult parts of this job is predicting when an instrument will be finished. We have learned to simply stop answering the question. Even during shaping and tuning, it is still hard to know how an instrument will turn out until after it is glued and tuned again. Our focus for the Saraz is on the highest quality possible for each instrument. Our focus is not on the quantity of instruments we can produce so we sincerely appreciate the patience of each person on our waiting list. We promise that we will finish our current waiting list in time and then take additional orders.
Although our 2014 production has been slower than expected, we do expect to increase production significantly in 2015 for one very exciting reason. Those of you that follow us on Facebook and handpan.org probably know that Josh Rivera recently joined our team as a second tuner. We have known Josh for a few years and were excited to learn that he started exploring building and tuning steel in 2013. During his visit to HangOut USA, we briefly discussed if he would be interested in joining our team. This lead him to visit again in October, spend 2 weeks in Pan City and tune two Saraz. We could not have been happier with his skills and enthusiasm. He truly paid his dues while learning this skill over hundreds of back breaking hours of hard work. Beyond being able to do the job, he is a positive, uplifting and charismatic person that fits in well with our team. As though that wasn’t enough, he has a great ear from his past experience as a recording engineer and is also a very talented percussionist and musician that has been playing Handpan far longer than anyone else on the team. Many future Saraz videos will feature his skills.
A few people have asked if Mark and Josh will begin signing each Saraz. The Saraz is a creation that comes from a collective of artists beyond just the tuner. Neither tuner would be able to achieve what they do without the precision and skill of the shaping team. For this reason, “Saraz” is the only appropriate signature. Mark and Josh have spent a lot of time together trading techniques and tuning tricks. Each has learned much in the process. We all feel very confident that Josh’s work will maintain the same level of quality as our most recent instruments as well as help us to continue evolving our work further and further long into the future.
As many of you know, we also created the Saraz Foundation last month to handle the sale of our immediately available instruments. All of the profits from these sales sponsor music education, environmental sustainability, and most importantly a healthy, happy, and balanced seventh generation of life on planet Earth. Organizations we have supported from these sales can be found on our website. The list will continue to grow over time.
As 2014 nears it’s end, we are very excited about the year ahead. We are preparing for a couple recording projects, a new website, collaboration with some great organizations, at least four handpan gatherings, a few new chromatic sets, further double sided instrument development and of course the endless evolution of each one of a kind Saraz. We are also deeply appreciative for every person that is interested in the Saraz because we truly cannot do this without the people that support our creative efforts. Sincerely, thank you for your interest!
We wish you all many blessings, endless inspiration, and happy holidays,
The Saraz Crew