"GONI -PAN" --- SIMULATES HAND-PAN --- CAN BE TUNED TO ANY HAND-PAN SCALE What I've done here is to combine the basic idea of an ancient, simple & really beautiful east African instrument called the "Goni" with the notes and alternating "right-left-right-left" playing patterns of the hand-pan (Halo, Hang etc) and came up with a most enjoyable and easy to build 9-stringed instrument that lends itself beautifully to the same kind of wandering improvisation that is the hallmark of metal Hand-Pans playing. A Hand-Pan player should be able to pick this thing up and feel quite at home quickly. Cost to build is on the order of twenty dollars, all new parts. The traditional African Goni can perhaps be thought of as a kind of basic, less complicated 8-string, pentatonically tuned Kora. It is played by the Dioula People of Burkina Faso but is far less well known than it's cousin, the Kora. My "Goni-Pan" (for lack of a better name) has 9 fishing-line nylon strings -- 8 for the main melody and one, low in pitch, that corresponds to hand-pan's central "ding". Anything that can be played on a hand-pan can be played on this "Goni-Pan" whose strings are laid out to simulate the "right-left-right-left" hand-pan configuration which raises in pitch the further you get from the notes closest to you. This thing is quickly tunable to ANY hand-pan scale - Ake Bono, Limoncello, Minor Penratonic 9 - ANY scale - you name it & can be also used to discover just which of the many hand-pan scales are your favorite. Rarely, a hand-pan scale's "ding" goes way low to an "F" note. This Goni-Pan can be made to sound nicely in scales using this low F by substituting 100 Lb fishline for the 80 Lb line for the lowest note - the "ding".CLICK HERE for a short YouTube video showing what this Goni-Pan sounds like
To be sure, this thing does not resemble the sound/tone of a hand-pan, but it sounds really nice and can be nearly as much improvisational fun as a Hand-Pan - I own both. Do not let this quagmire of seeming complication deter you -- anybody - anybody can build this thing with just everyday, basic tools. If you run into complications, let me know ( email@example.com ) & I'll help you along.
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Parts for making one:
- A hardwood lawn-rake handle ($4 locally) works PERFECTLY for the neck
- Just about any size larger (8" diameter and up) gourd (I used the bottom half
of a common "figure 8" shaped "bird-house" gourd).
Things besides gourds can be used too - see below.
- A small piece of just about any type leather - rawhide OR
tanned. See below
- 9 inexpensive guitar-type tuning gears (elderly.com - economy tuners)
- A few lengths of regular monofilament nylon fishing line
- Three hardware-store dowel rods
- A bottle of any kind of wood glue (Elmers, Titebond etc)
- A small package of 1/2" brads (or upholstery tacks)
- Small piece of 1/4" thick softwood for the bridge
With no frets, fretboard etc, absolutely nothing is fussy or critical.
This is not yet gourd season around northern Michigan, so I recently used the
bottom half of a a craft-store spiral-wound bamboo decorative "pot" instead of
a gourd. Worked perfectly as would large enough wooden salad bowls ETC. Use your
imagination - nothing fussy here (sound doesn't much care what it's resonator is!)
While rawhide is supposedly the best, I've had great luck using soft, tanned leather
and once mounted (rough side up) thoroughly rubbing-in copious amounts of common wood
glue (which itself is an animal product). This stiffens up the soft tanned leather and
works fine for this instrument. Salvation Army is a good source of leather -- ladies
old coats etc - for a few dollars.
In closing, I must put in a plug for the unmodified traditional west African Goni.
What a truly sweet, simple & BEAUTIFUL sounding instrument it is!! It's 8 nylon (fishing
line) strings are traditionally tuned in a pentatonic scale and is a REAL joy to play.
Please do check out Abou Diarra's magnificent Goni playing at this youtube site:
HERE Abou Diarra playing a Goni - incredible harmonics about a minute in!!.
Altho the commentary calls it a (closely related) N'goni, he's actually playing a Goni.
I truly fell in love with west African instruments after a recent trip there.
FAR to little time in this life!!!
Dennis Havlena - 7/26/2012
Webpage at www.DennisHavlena.com
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