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List of handpan scales

August 02, 2022 5 min read

The handpan is a relatively new instrument with a unique sound ranging from the soft and sweet to the powerful and explosive. At first glance, the range of available scales may seem confusing, but our comprehensive list of handpan scales will help you explore all the possibilities. We'll break down each scale and explain its unique characteristics, helping you find your perfect match.

Minor Scales

Kurd / Annaziska (minor)

Caracteristics : 

  • all the notes and chords from the minor scale.
  • many harmonic possibilities with intuitive natural chord progression.
  • popular scale
  • easy to play with other handpan
  • Good to play with other instruments.

Styles : From dreamy to mystical to happy and hopeful

Amara / Celtic Minor (minor)

Caracteristics : 

  • version of the typical Irish or Scottish hexatonic Dorian/minor scale
  • creates a suspended mood, oriented towards minor 7th chords and sounds,
  • avoids the tension created by diminished chords

Styles : intuitive, easy to connect with emotionally, beautiful, touching and inspiring. Great for meditation. 

Magic voyage (minor)

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Caracteristics : 

  • Pentatonic version of a minor scale
  • similar to the Low Pygmy scale
  • it has its root note on the Ding, the minor 3rd, perfect 5th and minor 7th, and then its major 2nd. 

Styles : dreamy, effective, beautiful, deep and sustained harmonics.

Pigmy (minor)

Caracteristics : 

  • form of Dorian pentatonic scale
  • intervals and repeated fifths deliver a deep and full scale with no precise central tone but brilliant and resonant, making it useful in several major and minor progressions.

Styles : gentle, sweet, inspires introspection and meditation. Indian flavor

Low pygmy (minor)

Caracteristics : 

  • Pentatonic version of a minor scale.
  • it has its root note on the Ding, and then a major 2nd, its minor 3rd, perfect 5th and minor 7th.

Styles :

La sirena / dorian (minor)

Caracteristics : 

  • hexatonic version of a Dorian scale
  • minor scale with a major sixth, giving it a slighter major character 
  • it presents a minor 3rd and a minor 7th.
  • the root note is the Ding, followed by the sequence to build the root minor chord. It is a very versatile scale, as the sequence of notes can highlight a natural minor scale starting from the 5th degree of the scale or a major scale starting from the 3rd degree. The absence of the subdominant note makes this version suitable to play over several major and relative minor scales, 

Styles : mysterious, romantic, a dreamy atmosphere, smooth jazz, joyfulness

Hijaz (minor)

Caracteristics : 

  • version of an harmonic minor scale.
  • typical oriental sound
  • Suitable for percussive playing and oriental or spanish sounding melodies.  

Styles :Arabic melodies and atmospheres.

Equinox (minor)

Caracteristics : 

  • hexatonic minor scale.
  • the root note on the Ding, followed by the minor 3rd and perfect 5th on the lower register emphasize the minor mode of this scale.
  • nice balance between major and minor moods.

Styles : harmony, calmness and equlilibrium.

Aeolian (minor)

Caracteristics : 

  • complete natural minor scale.
  • The presence of the low fifth on the ding along with the complete sequence of the aeolian/minor scale note is the perfect display to build all scale chords and melodic sequences.
  • full diatonic scale, with the advantage of having no other notes repeated aside from the central ding.

Styles : 


Caracteristics : 

  • pentatonic scale obtained from the traditional Japanese diatonic scale In.
  • characterized by minor-second intervals between the first and the second note of the group, and a perfect fourth between the first and the last note in the group.
  • In this handpan version, the ding is the root of the scale, followed by the fourth and the fifth, defining the limits of the two three-note groups and introducing its mood. 

Styles : The result is a deep and hypnotic scale, an introspective immersion in the oriental sound of this music scale.


Caracteristics : 

  • hexatonic natural minor scale.
  • The missing tone is again the perfect fourth, the same situation of the Integral scale.
  • has the minor seventh as the last and highest sounding note of the scale, dividing the register of the handpan in two sections, a lower one with the presence of the perfect fifth and minor sixth, and a higher one where the other notes of the scale contribute to underline a melody built over the persistent sound of the root note.

Styles :

Romanian Hijaz (minor)

Caracteristics : 

  • obtained from the 4th degree of a harmonic minor scale
  • presents the fifth degree of the scale on the Ding, resolving to its root note, which is the second lowest note of the scale.
  • starting from the Ding: perfect 5th, Root, major 2nd, minor 3rd, augmented 4th, perfect 5th, major 6th, minor 7th and major 2nd again

Styles :

Blues (minor)

Caracteristics : 

  • experimental, yet effective handpan version of the world blues scale.
  • minor pentatonic with the addition of a chromatic note between the fourth and fifth degree, the famous blue note

Styles :

Major Scales

Pentatonic major (major)

Caracteristics : 

  • major scale without the fourth and the seventh notes.
  • In one of the most classical versions, it eliminates all the half tones intervals, creating a stable and strong major movement.
  • By having five tones over eight or nine notes, the result is also the natural repetition of three notes over two octaves, creating full resonance and brilliance.
  • Along with a stable and consonant progression, it can be played over minor and major scales alike, representing a good choice for beginner players who wish to focus on percussion.

Styles :

Jibuk (major)

Caracteristics : 

  • mixolydian scale,
  • root note is the fifth, or dominant, of a major scale.
  • The Ding is the fifth note of the scale, resolving a fourth above to the root note, the first note of the scale after the Ding.
  • Very similar to a major scale, it differs from its parent just for the minor 7th over the root note, creating a dominant 7th chord that highlights its happy and playful character.

Styles : happy and peaceful sound, perfect for music therapy.

Myxolidian (major)

Caracteristics : 

  • hexatonic version of the fifth mode of the major scale.
  • the root note is on the Ding, moving on towards the perfect fifth and major sixth, but omitting the minor seventh to underline the role of the root note.
  • In this case, it can also be considered as a major scale without its seventh, serving the purpose of the two main major modal scales. 

Styles : happy, peacefu, perfect for music therapy

Sabye (major)

Caracteristics : 

  • diatonic version of a Lydian modal scale.
  • The root note is the second lower note of the scale, while the ding is its perfect fifth, a note that finds its melodic resolution on the root of the scale.
  • The Lydian mode is very similar to the major scale mode: the only difference is the augmented fourth interval, which gives it its heavenly and uplifting character.
  • The peculiarity of the Sabye scale is also its last note, which is deliberately different from the root note of the Lydian scale

Styles : intriguing suspended atmosphere 

Yshasavita (major)

Caracteristics :

  • form of hexatonic major scale without its sixth grade.
  • The majority of the intervals are oriented towards major progressions and sounds, avoiding stable minor structures.
  • perfect complement for advanced players who wish to complete their favorite setting only adding one other instrument. 

Styles : It sounds as a happy and refreshing major progression, filling the player and the listeners with energy and positive vibrations.


The choice of a scale will really depend on you. There are only good choice and the magic will at the end come from you and what you can invent with your handpan. If you want to go deeper in how to choose a handpan and identify a good handpan instrument take a look at our blog articles about these subjects. 

alexandre zunino
alexandre zunino

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