Updated: May 21, 2020
For today's Handpan Maker Spotlight we'll be learning a bit about Spirit Handpans of Asheville, North Carolina.
Spirit Handpans is the child of the newly formed Ensophonic Arts, both of which were founded by the multi-talented Rebecca Paige Dancyger. Rebecca and I first met years ago in Asheville and I have been excitedly following her work since. At only 24 years old Rebecca already has an impressive track record as a skilled artist, musician, and handpan builder. Rebecca is a true pioneer of this art form as not only one of the scene's youngest handpan builders, but also one of the only handpan building women in the United States.
I caught up with Rebecca this week to learn more about Spirit Handpans, Ensophonic Arts, and more.
What is your company name? And what is the meaning/inspiration behind it?
Spirit Handpans is the original name of the company, though over the years it has evolved
into Ensophonic Arts. Both names capture the essence of how this instrument can be used as a tool for spirituality, finding centeredness, peace, and joy. Spirit is one thing that shines brilliantly any time someone plays or hears the handpan. I wanted to capture that essence in my company. Ensophonic, the evolved form of the company, highlights the moments of sound captured and the journey we take when we surrender ourselves and our thoughts to the pleasure and experience of handpans.
Do you have a specific name for the handpans you make? What is the meaning behind it?
The current Spirit Handpan models are called Origins and that is because the journey of making them has come full circle. Building handpans is a wild ride that can take you through so many different attitudes, emotions, and attachments to what it means to love handpans. In the past year, I have re-rooted in why I fell in love with handpans in the first place. The sound of my instruments finally settled into their unique tone and personality at the same time. I decided to coin them as Origins because I finally remembered my own origin in the handpan journey and circled back to it.
Spirit Handpans - 2017
Ensophonic Arts - 2020
Asheville, North Carolina
How did you first discover the handpan?
I first discovered the handpan watching a Daniel Waples busking video online. It was a classic on his D minor PANArt hang and I was enthralled. From there, I discovered the handpan forum and it turned into the wildest rabbit hole.
What made you decide to start building handpans?
I decided to start building handpans because of an absolute need to have this industry and community as close as possible. I was discontent with the idea of pursuing an education and truly not knowing what I would get a degree in. Nothing was more appealing than diving into the arts. This decision was made easier by the support and friendship of Jon Antzoulis (founder of Aura Handpan) who allowed me to hop on board and learn with him.
What is your goal as a handpan builder?
My goal as a handpan builder is to help get as many people as possible exposed to handpans. I believe that these instruments can wake people up, change them, help them find themselves, and discover a profound joy that words can hardly describe. I have the power to make these magical tools accessible to people, so that is my mission.
What would you say your instruments are known for?
I often hear that my instruments really do have a feminine touch that isn't heard in other instruments. That comes along with a really nice sustain, and a sensitive response to touch. My instruments have also been noted to have a special bloom on the ding.
What are your most and least favorite things about being a handpan builder?
My most favorite things about building handpans are the freedom and joy that come from
being a professional artist by occupation, the absolute joy I can help people find by getting these instruments into their hands, and by the gratification that comes from the challenge in building them. The things I like least are the intense physical pains that come with building handpans (just have to be blunt about that), the uncertainty that always comes along with being a small business owner, and the frustration that sometimes comes along when working with metal. What a crazy, and sometimes unpredictable material.
If you could only play one handpan scale for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
If I could only play one scale for the rest of my life, it would probably be E voyager 9. I can't say why other than it simply holds a special place in my heart. It is jammy enough, but also meditative enough. It's just a sweet scale.
What's one interesting fact about you, your company, or your instruments?
I have been a flute player for about 15 years and playing flute along with handpan jammers has further enhanced the joy that playing flute brings me. It circles back and forth, playing my handpans improves my flute playing, and playing flute improves my handpan playing.
Do you take custom orders?
Yes (This is primarily how I build)
Do you have instruments currently available to purchase?
I often will have an instrument or two that is available for immediate purchase and usually at a discount. All one needs to do is inquire!
Do you have a waiting list? If so how long?
At the moment I do not have a waitlist. If my queue is low, you can expect an instrument in 3 to 4 weeks. If I have a short list, 4 to 5 weeks.
For more information about Spirit Handpans and Ensophonic Arts:
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