Pantasia 2015


Integratron performance during Pantasia 2015

In February, Josh and Mark had a lovely time visiting southern California for the Pantasia Handpan Gathering organized by Stevan Morris and hosted by the Mental Physics Retreat Center in Joshua Tree as well as the infamous Integratron. The desert was blooming in it’s most vivacious and juicy season while the warm temperatures were a nice reprieve from the cool icy and snowy weather of the Southern Appalachians.  It was great to see old friends and customers while also meeting new friends, some of whom are on the Saraz waiting list. It is a pleasure to attend these gatherings because we get to meet some of the people that truly make it possible for us to build these instruments.  It is always more meaningful for us when we have met the person whose instrument we are currently building. It is also interesting to visit all of the data that resides in each instrument from each builder. We got the opportunity to revisit some older Saraz that ranged from Prototype #20 to some rolled shell Saraz built in 2014 and some of the most recently released creations.  One of the delights of the festival was having Shion Yamakawa, an exquisite Violin player, sit in with Josh, Rusty and Mark during their last improvised piece of the Saturday night concert.  Mark and Josh hope to explore some further composition with Shion and others sometime in the future. Thank you to Sylvain Paslier for recording our first appetizer!

Josh, Mark and Jason will attend Handpangea Farmington April 23rd-27th 2015.  Most of the Saraz crew will attend HangOut USA  July 16-20th 2015.  Josh and Mark will also attend HangOut UK September 10th-13th 2015.  Josh and Mark will be happy to give any Saraz a tune up that might be in need. Please contact us in advance of the event to discuss the instrument and tune up costs.

 

Saraz Album Collaboration

We have recently finished a 5 Saraz chromatic set for recording an album with a number of very talented local musicians including River Gueguerian, James Kylen, Marc Hennessey, Peter Levitov, Linda Go, and Mark Garner.

The project is the first in our plans for a series of featured song writers. In this first chapter, the Saraz Entourage is particularly excited to collaborate with E. W. Harris from Brooklyn NY. Listen to a sample track from Eric on bandcamp.

 

Buncombe Built Art Show

The Asheville Area Arts Council gallery recently featured local instrument makers and Saraz was very proud to be part of the show. Mark gave a speech on the topics of history of tuned steel, basics of handpan building, as well as a little sneak peak into where we are headed in 2015. We also had a question and answer session followed by a short performance by Mark and Josh.

Buncombe Built Art Show 2014 with Josh and Mark

Buncombe Built Art Show 2014

Asheville Area Arts Council Bumcombe Built art show

Photos © leeagorell.com

Recent Developments

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.

A new member of the Saraz Family

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.

Saraz Foundation

THE SARAZ FOUNDATION

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

July 2014 Updates

We are finally taking a sigh of relief after weeks of celebration.

HangOut USA and the Asheville Percussion Festival were absolutely amazing events!!! Huge thank you to Rusty and Imani as well as River and crew for organizing each event!!

6 saraz handpan chromatic set from 2014

During HangOut USA, we finally accomplished a 2 year dream of building the chromatic set of handpans that are in the photo above. The endeavor was actually one of the primary motivations for ever starting to build handpans. Mark joined Peter Levitov and Maxime Le Royer to write a composition on the chromatic set of 6 Saraz and performed it on Friday night of HangOut USA.

The set spanned C#3 – D5 leaving out only Bb4 as a fundamental (although it was represented in 3 places as a harmonic). A huge thank you goes out to each person on the Saraz crew that made this dream a reality! We are looking very forward to building our next prototype chromatic set and continuing the endless exploration of composition possibilities that are opened by two full octaves of western notes.

During our exploration of the chromatic set, we also extended our range of offered notes. As though we don’t currently offer enough scales, we will be adding a few more scales to our list in the near future. First, we will add some scales with a C#3 center. Many of these will be limited to 8 total notes on top because of the size of the C#3 while additional notes can be added to the bottom shell of the instrument. The following instrument confirmed that we are not far from also offering F#3 as a side note.

The chromatic set also included the first Saraz with a Eb3 in the center. Along with a Bb3 on the side, the instrument had two Bb4 harmonics. With the use of internal baffles, we achieved excellent clarity and sustain of each note and harmonic even though this frequency is the hot spot of our chamber impedance. After some additional tests, we will likely open up a number of scales with Eb3 as well. Here is a video of our first:

Finally, we also recently built the first Saraz with a G#3 in the center. This is the highest note yet in the center of a Saraz built from a rolled shell. We were all particularly excited about this instrument. This hexitonic variation of C# minor was raffled off at HangOut USA.

Because our waiting list has grown more than big enough, we are no longer accepting requests for instruments until further notice. If you would like to be informed about when we will be accepting requests, please sign up on our mailing list.

After a month of fun and festivities, it’s time to get back to hammering in preparation for HangOut UK!!!

Wishing you all many blessings and endless inspiration,

The Saraz Crew

Citizen Times Article on Saraz

Mark Garner talking about handpan building process with the Citizen Times

The local Asheville newspaper recently published a very flattering article and video on the Saraz project. Both can be found online at the following link: Citizen Times