With its distinctive UFO design and its mysterious, magical sound, if ever there was an instrument that had been plucked straight out of dreamland, it would most certainly be the Handpan.
The handpan, also known as the hang drum, hangpan and spacedrum, is a surprisingly modern instrument with an ancient and mystical sound - ideal for meditation and relaxation.
The original instrument - the Hang - was invented by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer of PANArt, in Bern, Switzerland in the year 2000.
However, the small production numbers and the high price of the original instrument made finding an original Hang drum for sale a near impossibility.
Fortunately now, wonderful companies such as Nature Pan Music, have brought the instrument to a wider audience.
The hand pan itself is a perfect tool for experimenting with the ability to practice and explore creativity within the dreamscape.
Firstly, it is a deceptively simple instrument, often with only 8 to 11 notes - depending on the design. This is a very easy musical system for the mind to model within a dream.
Secondly, the instrument is versatile. It allows for complicated and beautiful tunes that rely on dexterity and an understanding of the physics and resonance of the instrument.
This creates an ideal combination between simplicity and complexity - an ideal balance for pushing the learning and modelling abilities of the dreaming brain.
Once you can easily memorise the basic sounds of the instrument, the question then becomes: can we use this fundamental information to practice (and improve) on a dream version of the handpan within a lucid dream?
I've always been somewhat of a hobbyist musician. For the longest time, I'd longed to play on a handpan.
Late last year I had the pleasure to discover that a new friend of mine was both an owner of the instrument and a talented player.
She was kind enough to allow me the occasional use of her pan.
During this very limited use, I made a concerted effort to memorise the scale and workings of the instrument - with the plan to then create my own duplicate within my lucid dreams.
The plan was a success!
For several months, I had access to the real-world hang drum for perhaps a handful of hours. However, I had set myself the challenge to learn to play it within my dreams.
This I managed to achieve with only minimal effort. I simply set the intention each night to use my lucid dreams as a practice session.
Surprisingly, my dreaming mind had little trouble recreating the instrument - working from my carefully observed waking memories. So, I set about regular dream practice sessions, using any time spent in a lucid dream as a personal music lesson.
As my skills improved, I eventually decided upon the idea of composing a tune within the dreamscape. Something I have done before, but never with an instrument so unfamiliar as this hand pan!
So, on the night of June 6th, 2017, I decided to conjure a favourite musician of mine - Simon Posford of "Shpongle" - into my lucid dream. The plan was to share a "lucid jam session".
The plan was a success and as anyone who follows my YouTube channel will know, upon waking I immediately set to record the music composed within the dream (full dream details can be found in the YouTube video description):
As the video circulated the internet, I was pleasantly surprised to make contact with Juris Zvejnieks, a hand pan creator and the owner of Nature Pan Music.
Juris was so inspired by the concept of combining lucid dreaming creativity with the handpan, that he very kindly decided to sponsor my lucid musical explorations by supplying The Lucid Guide project with one of his own wonderful creations.
As a testament to the kindness of strangers, the power of exploring new ideas and the wonder of the lucid dreaming community, I'm now the proud owner of a Nature Pan Music hand pan!
This is wonderful news and means that I shall now be in a position to research and explore this concept much further, while also creating unique meditative music for the lucid dream community.
So, should you wish to become a lucid handpan player yourself, I highly recommend the work of Nature Pan Music. Juris' company is clearly one based on creativity, kindness and passion. You'd be in very good hands.
As Juris and got to know each other, I decided there was a unique opportunity for an entirely new challenge. For the next few months, I shall be using my increasing knowledge of the Pan to work within my lucid dreams to attempt to develop a "lucid pan" - the first handpan to be designed within a lucid dream!
Who knows. Within a few months, we may have an instrument that sounds like a dream, can be learn't in dreams and was created within a dream. What a testament to the power of lucidity that would be!
This new challenge would be an altogether more creative process! Is the mind capable of generating an entirely unique and stable scale - and, furthermore, would my dream recall be up to the task of carrying this information back into the waking world?
So, I set my mind to the task of inducing a lucid dream in which I would materialize or search for a unique handpan—an instrument born in the dream world.
This was no easy process. As you all know, lucid dreaming can be a fickle beast, even for an experienced oneironaut. You can never be quite certain if your techniques will pay off, or if your dreams will be stable and lucid enough to conduct your experiments.
Luckily over the course of a couple of weeks I managed to induce a series of lucid dreams which fit my needs precisely. Using the Wake Back to Bed (WBTB) technique I was able to enter a series of Wake Initiated Lucid Dreams and pursue my goal. WILDs are generally the most stable and clear-headed variety of lucid dream, ideal for these kinds of experiments.
As with the vast majority of my WILDs, my entry point into the dreamworld was a perfect replica of my bedroom. Fortunately, being aware of this fact I have, over the years, designed my room with lucidity in mind: much of the ornamentation and furniture of the room has a dual purpose—one for the waking world and another for dreams. For example, I have a series of taxidermy animals which during my lucid dreams can be magically imbued with the spark of life and can act as companions or guides in the dreamscape. Equally, I have a series of tools such as elaborate "wands", weapons, containers, and other mysterious trinkets that can all be used in the dream world for dream control or "magical" aids.
In these particular dreams I turned to a large wooden chest, one which I use as a dreaming tool for the materialization of objects. In the dreamscape I can open this chest with an expectation to find whatever I wish inside. Regularly this acts in a manner similar to Mary Poppins handbag or the Tardis, with items much larger than could be truly contained manifested within.
It was within this chest that the Lucid Pan was first born. In the initial dream things did not quite go to plan! While the hang drum appeared as wished, it was severely distorted and damaged.
However, my second attempt was somewhat more productive—the pan was manifest and I was able to play it in all its glory.
It had an eerie sound, long resonant notes reminiscent of an Arabian desert night or the otherworldly music one might expect to accompany a gypsy fortune teller.
Once I had committed the scale to memory (I am fortunate to have a musical ear), I used the technique of holding one’s breath to wake myself. Having planned ahead, I had placed my guitar close to my bed, allowing me to check and record the notes still buzzing in my mind upon waking. The pan itself was an odd looking beast: eleven notes with one rather oddly placed high note making it appear something like a cyclops or a cosmic turtle’s third eye.
It took all of five lucid dreams to fully transfer the eleven note scale into the waking world - with some dreams occasionally contradicting others.
However, once complete, the eleven note scale followed an unusual pattern: E,A,B,C,Eb,E,F,G,B,C,E. Three E notes seemed particularly strange for a handpan. After a little research and discussion with Juris, it would seem that this scale was something of an elaboration on what is known as Hijaz, a popular Middle Eastern scale.
Perhaps my dreaming mind had delved deep into my memories and picked this from my travels in Morocco or some other long forgotten memory. However, Juris informed me that this particular dreamt version of the scale would be quite unique for a hang drum, one of a kind.
Once I had shared the scale, imagery and design notes with Juris, he took to the hard work of creating the "lucid pan" in reality.
During the several months wait for the pan to be built, I grew to know it better in the dream world, playing and practising it during many lucid dreams. So, it was with more than a little anticipation that I awaited its arrival in waking life.
Eventually, the day of delivery arrived, with a bemused looking postman carrying an excessively large parcel. So, with the excitement of a child at Christmas I dashed to unpack a dream made real. To the credit of Nature Pan Music, the hand pan was so well packaged that it took a Houdini level of skill (and about 10 minutes) to finally unwrap the Lucid Pan.
For those of you who know my work, you’ll be aware that since childhood I have been entranced by the idea of bringing something from the dream world back into reality, such as waking with a dream plucked flower still in hand.
The Lucid Pan is the closest I have ever come to making this dream a reality. The artistic beauty and sound of Juris’ work have recreated my dreamt pan in almost perfect detail. I believe that this may be the world’s very first instrument to be designed in a dream.
Hear the Lucid Pan played by Ivar Karm here.
In the near future I’ll be using the lucid pan to create music and meditation content for my YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe so as to discover more.
So, with creativity, dedication and experimentation it seems that it is certainly possible to bring a little of the dream world into reality. I hope this inspires you to explore the creative power of your dreaming mind further. Together, we can help make the world a more creative and dreamlike place!