Design & Building History
The Saraz crew have explored a variety of materials and designs. The following is a brief timeline of developments:
In November, Mark introduced Saraz Prototype #1 at the Song of the Forest Handpan Gathering.
Mark’s father, Steve, joined the crew in late 2012. Steve has become a master of sinking shells with an appropriate thickness profile as well as the fine details of pressing notes and dimples. With a background in drafting, civil engineering, land surveying, and carpentry, his mathematical and artistic skills have proven endlessly valuable.
Most instruments built in 2013 were formed entirely by pneumatic and hand hammering.
It was an exciting year of exploring the basics of tuning, building, heat-treating and annealing steel.
The crew spent months building the Saraz on only rolled shells fabricated by Pantheon Steel. They also began exploring additional notes on the bottom shell of the drum while tuning at least one shoulder tone on the center note border of most Saraz.
In mid 2014,The Saraz Foundationwas created to promote and sponsor music education, environmental sustainability, and most importantly, a healthy, happy, and balanced seventh generation of life on planet Earth.
For the first Hang Out USA, a 6 Saraz Chromatic set was built and debuted at the festival by Mark Garner, Maxime Le Royer and Peter Levitov.
Later in the year, the Saraz was offered on both rolled and fully hammer shaped shells until the crew decided to focus primarily on fully hammer shaped instruments. They also started pressing both the dimple and tone field on each instrument.
Recognizing the need for quality carrying cases, Saraz Handpans became the US and Canadian distributor for Hard Case Technologies.
We began tuning multiple shoulder tones on almost all Saraz while Mark also focused on further developing the fine shaping process, note shapes, and dimple sizes.
In February, nine Saraz were built and used for the Saraz Entourage to record their first album, Reentry, which features the songs of E.W. Harris. Six of the instruments were designed as a chromatic set. Listen to the album HERE.
Later in the year, our great friend Chris Genereux joined the crew and now helps with endless details of both Saraz and Hard Case Technologies.
The crew began exploring limited edition deep drawn shells fabricated by Shellopan in France as well as Isthmus Handpans made in the USA. In addition to fully hammered shaped and rolled shells, the new shell forming process introduced novel insights into the internal structure of the steel.
Two new sizes of Saraz were introduced in 2016. In addition to the original 21” diameter Saraz, the crew began building 20” and 19” diameter instruments in order to utilize better internal resonance for each offered scale. By using three different diameters, many inherent wobbles of notes that do not resonant with stable sustain in a particular sized chamber can be placed on a different sized chamber where they resonant with stable sustain.
Mid year, Chet Plant, who is one of Mark’s oldest friends of 20+ years, joined the crew. He has since taken over sinking half of our shells, forming ports, and learning the many details of fine shaping instruments.
In January, we released the results of our collaboration with Paul Vo of VO Inventions. Paul designed and built a prototype magnetic oscillator that is capable of driving the vibration of a handpan and ultimately turning a handpan note into a speaker.
In April, Adam Maalouf released “Future Tribe”, an ensemble album release of global instrumentalists. The album features a few Saraz Handpans. Maalouf’s music is presented with a range of traditional musicians playing Indian Tabla, Arabic Vocal, Bansuri Flute, Middle Eastern Percussion, Guitar, Trumpet, Turkish Oud and Nay.
Adam Maalouf – Pantam, Cello, Drums, Percussion, Tabla
Josh Geisler – Bansuri, Guitar
Arun Ramamurthy – Violin
Cody Rowlands – Trumpet
Tomchess – Oud, Ney
Shelley Thomas – Arabic Vocal
Juliet Rabia – Zoroastrian Vocal
Jerry Walsh – didgeridoo
Michael Gam – Bass
Dominic Sbrega – Bass
In June, we completed our fifth chromatic set. It was the first set to be built on three sizes of Saraz in order to maximize ideal internal resonance. The set ranged from B2 – D#5 with every note between F3 and D#5 represented in 2-4 places for ideal resonance and ergonomics. The set was debuted at the Asheville Percussion Festival by River Guerguerian, David Kuckhermann, and Adam Maalouf.
You can find a video of the song, Seven Circles HERE.
In July, Saraz helped create Handpan Makers United whose mission is to advocate for protection and cultivation of the global tuned steel community through spread of truthful information, collaboration, camaraderie, and free creative expression within the Handpan Art form.
During the second half of the year, Mark began expanding the note range further down with the first prototype Bass Saraz. The following video is Josh Rivera demonstrating Mark’s first Bass Saraz, which has a B2, D3, and E3. Josh is also playing a G Major Saraz. As you can hear, introducing lower tonic notes can take a single scale in far more directions
In February, our friends Free Planet Radio released a new album called Stillness. As a “meditation” CD, the soundscape compositions take the listener on a jazzy journey across the world of Rhythm and Melody. River Guerguerian plays our Saraz Chromatic set on 5 of the album tracks. We strongly encourage you all to check it out!
In April, we finished our first Collaboration instrument with Kyle Cox of Pantheon Steel. Sarazalo #1 is built from a drawn shell fabricated by Shellopan. The Saraz crew shaped the shell and then sent it to Kyle to tune. 100% of the proceeds of the instrument went to Handpan Makers United. It is both Pantheon Steel and Saraz’s hope that goodwill between makers will help ensure a healthy art form for years to come.
Also in April, Angela Wilhelm from the local Asheville Newspaper, The Citizen Times, published a lovely Article and Video on the Saraz.
In June, Mark finished the first Saraz built from a Hydroformed shell fabricated by Bill Roberts of Florida. The experience was quite interesting and gave us all further insight into the different methods of forming a shell and the resulting thickness profile.
During the Summer months, Mark also finished the first 3 Stainless Steel Saraz: 21″ C# Minor, 20″ D Minor, and a 19″ G Minor in preparations for the launch on our Saraz “Meditation Series” Instruments.
In October, Mark visited Pantheon Steel headquarters in Farmington and teamed up once again to make the first ‘Halaz’, which is a Halo tuned by Mark in the Pantheon Steel Spiral sound model:
Db-Ab Db Eb F Ab Db Eb F
You may remember our first collaboration was the Sarazalo, which was a Saraz tuned by Kyle Cox.
This was Handpan Makers United’s fourth collaborative instrument. We are living out our organization’s vision statement for the betterment and protection of this art form through collaboration and camaraderie of builders world wide.
Strong roots make strong trees.
In November, Saraz was featured on Local News Channel WLOS ABC13 “Mountain Made”
Big thanks to Justin and Ken of local news channel WLOS ABC 13 for their time and energy putting together this lovely article and “Mountain Made” news segment about the Saraz. It was a great honor to share with them our building process and passion for Handpans.
I felt quite honored to be asked to read the Creative Mornings Manifesto at the Asheville Chapter’s November event. However I immediately wondered if it would be ok to do something a little different. Huge thanks to Rachael and Mike for letting us put the inspiring manifesto to the music of a Saraz Handpan. Also an enormously huge thanks to my great friend Linda Go for blessing the audience with her beautiful voice in this collaboration….and a special thanks to the audience for joining us in the final lines. This was really fun!
In December, Mark built the first Saraz on an Ayasa Drawn Shell. As the third drawn shell that we have built a Saraz on, it is undeniably our favorite so far. The scale is one my favorites, F Dorian. A sincere salute to Ralf and the whole crew at Ayasa Instruments for fabricating these awesome shells and making them available to other builders.
In January, we launched 3 Series of Saraz Handpans including our Stainless Steel “Meditation” Series, budget friendly “Enthusiast Series, and our classic “Professional” Series.
In June, we released “More Than Music – Episode 1” with Billy Zanksi discussing Sound Meditation performances with Saraz Handpans, crystal bowls, and gongs at his shop, Skinny Beats, in Asheville, NC.
In September, Adam Maalouf released acoustic album “East River Sessions”. This live video album features violinists Arun Ramamurthy and Layth Sidiq, vocalist Mariam Abuamer, and percussionists Shiva Goshal and Jeremy Smith. For this record, Saraz Handpans are the centerpiece of Maalouf’s performance. “East River Sessions” marks the first video documentation of classical musical styles from the Middle East and India played on the modern pantam.
In November, Adam Maalouf released his 2019 record “Path of Time” album as a musical exploration combining traditions of world music with modern electronics. Maalouf builds a foundation for the album with supporting instrumentals of pantam, cello, electric guitar, marimba, piano, world percussion, electronics, and synthesizers. A number of Saraz Handpans are featured on the album including his most recent 15 note Meditation Series E Minor Saraz.
The project features vocals by Hannah Sumner, Apoorva Mudgal, and Mariam Abuamer.
In December, Adam Bokesch and James Cloutier released “In Motion”. Featuring a Meditation Series C# Mixolydian Saraz, these Handpan driven instrumentals are designed to flow with a 1 hour yoga session.
In May, we released “More Than Music” Episode 2. with Rob Jacoby at his counseling office in Asheville, NC. In this episode, Rob discusses Handpans, Equine Assisted Therapy and EMDR in his counseling and psychology work.
Over the years, the crew has helped pioneer handpan development while exploring a wide diversity of note shapes, border designs, dimple shapes, dimple to note ratios, port and interstitial designs, note alignments, bottom notes, helmholtz tuning and fine shaping methods. We are always exploring further developments as this young art form continues to grow.
The Saraz is currently offered in a note range from B2-E5 and G2 – Bb2 are currently available for Bass Pans.
Since the beginning, one inspiration to build the Saraz was to push the musical limits of the handpan’s development. With only one scale per instrument on high quality handpans, Mark’s first impression was that the instrument appeared simple and limited. Although he has developed a deep appreciation for the nuances of each instrument, he has never lost the desire to build high quality chromatic handpan sets for the professional musician that can be utilized in any genre of music. From 2012 – 2017, five chromatic sets of Saraz have been built. They have ranged within B2 to D#5 and from three to six Saraz Handpans with the most recent set covering the entire range.
Thank you for being apart of our journey. We are only crafters of musical paint brushes that provide the tools for players to paint musical landscapes of inspiration, passion, and creativity that resonant with the heart and soul.
“I've got it!!! My handpan arrived safely in my absence. And now I hold it in my hands. The sound is great - I love it. Thank you very much for this fantastic instrument. And thank you for your friendly and perfect customer service with all the information and special links! I am very happy.”