The sound of the handpan rarely leaves anyone indifferent. Easy to handle, the handpan is a very intuitive instrument and the fact that no false note is possible allows most people to have a good time and to let their creativity come out from the first notes. And on top of it, the sound of the handpan has real positive effects on our health and well-being. Unknown until recently, the handpan is now used by professional musicians as well as by amateur artists and practitioners of relaxation and meditation methods. What more could you ask for?
Music therapy is a newcomer in the field of non-invasive therapies. The role of music on the brain is being studied more and more and research is bringing amazing results. Music therapies are known to improve the quality of life of those who participate by reducing psychological and behavioral disorders, reducing the effects of depression and anxiety and increasing self-confidence and emotional expression.
Sound therapy is based on the science of vibration, frequency and resonance of sounds. Each sound has a specific vibration and frequency that our body is able to perceive. We therefore feel the vibrations and frequencies of music. In addition to these vibrations, the resonance produced by the sound will also have its importance. In music, resonance is the length of time a sound can still be heard after it has been struck. The handpan is one of the most powerful instruments in sound healing because it has a great resonance and the sound emanates in all directions, filling the entire room with vibration and resonance.
Each note on the handpan consists of three frequencies: a fundamental sound, a harmonic octave whose frequency is exactly half that of the fundamental sound, and a compound fifth whose frequency is exactly one-third that of the fundamental sound!
Sense and perception researchers have discovered that the human brain likes to simplify frequency ratios when it hears them. Since the frequency ratio of the handpan is already simplified to the maximum, it has a very harmonizing and soothing effect on our brain. The frequency of the soft sounds emitted by the handpan tells our brain that it is possible to relax and release stress and tension.
Sound healing works by conditioning. This means that when listening to certain sounds or music, the brain becomes calm and relaxed. The brain waves then become sensitive to the sounds and naturally slow down. This is what happens during meditation. Once sound therapy has helped the body and mind relax, the brain releases hormones. These hormones will improve mood, stimulate blood vessels and thus help healing. The mind will feel calmer and more serene, which will also have positive health benefits.
Many studies based on the Tibetan bowl have been conducted. This instrument has some similarities with the handpan, so we will focus on studies based on this instrument. In 2016, a group of professors and doctors in the United States published a study. In this study, 62 people between the ages of 21 and 71 participated in an experiment with sound meditation sessions using Tibetan Bowls. The study showed highly significant effects for the participants after the meditation, confirming the hypothesis that sound meditation would increase feelings of relaxation and decrease feelings of stress.
Several studies suggest that musical stimulation improves walking velocity, but also cadence, length, and symmetry, in stroke patients.
The sound produced by an instrument such as the Tibetan bowl or handpan contributes to pain relief, notably through the production of endorphins. Studies that have looked at this topic have noted that participants had less need for chemicals such as morphine or anti-inflammatory drugs when a musical instrument was used beforehand. And this finding has also been validated for chronic pain such as back pain, migraines or osteoarthritis pain.
On June 20, 2008, a German team of scientists published a study entitled: "Singing Quartz Bowl Therapy for Spinal Pain" where the objective was to see if the sound or vibrations of Singing Bowls could relieve chronic back pain in 54 people. The conclusion shows that "Pain intensity was significantly lower" for the group of individuals who received the Singing Bowl treatment. However, it is difficult to determine if this result was truly due to the effect of the music.
Listening to a relaxing or soothing sound helps to improve the quality of sleep, to facilitate falling asleep and thus to avoid insomnia. Moreover, the number of awakenings during the night is reduced, which avoids getting up in the morning in a state of fatigue. This phenomenon has been confirmed by science for several decades and the positive side is that this virtue has been observed at all ages. Therefore, playing the Tibetan bowl or handpan a few minutes before bedtime is an excellent idea to prepare for a good night's sleep.
If you are looking for an instrument adapted to music therapy, handpan is the perfect choice. Intuitive, versatile and compact, it is very easy to handle. The advantage is that it is not necessary to know how to play the handpan to enjoy it. Each note in itself is beneficial, and there is no need to compose a harmonic melody for the music to help you relax.