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about me.  
Handpan Tuner: 園部 良 / Ryo Sonobe

Beginning Turning_point.1 Turning point.2
text from a Japanese magazine
Pan tuner : 園部良/Ryo Sonobe

The Beginning  Pic

Around the end of my teens, I had a chance to listen to an imported record of Steelpan.

Then I wasn't interested in playing steelpan at all, but  fascinated by it's unique shape

and mysterious sound.

So I was very excited about making Steelpans.

In '90 and '92, I have been to Trinidad & Tobago to learn how to make steelpans.  Pic

After returning to Japan,I tried to make steelpans over and over again by  

Japanese oil drums, However I couldn't get the sound I envisioned.

So I decided to start a Steelpans import business from 1993.  Pic

Music I used to listen to in my teens~20s/ Domestic : Yukihiro Takahashi, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Plastics,Eiichi Otaki, Concentpix, Jagatara, Katsurei, Seijin Noborikawa,Jun Togawa, early Elerly Elephant Kashimashi, etc.

/ Overseas : TalkingHeads,BigAudioDynamite,PinkFloyd,KingCrimson,Smiths,Slits,Nico,

TomWaits,TheJames,NickCave,CocteauTwins,Traffic,RobertWyatt,L.K.J.,BobMarley,PrinceFari,MassiveAttack,BrigitteFontaine,LoungeLizards,KennyDorham,AlbertAyler, various music from FarEastNetwork, Ethnic music from around the world, etc.


What I'm listening to these days : The Guest List


Books I used to read around 18-20 years old : Kenzaburo Oe, Yukio Mishima, Shinya Fujiwara, etc.

Movies I used to watch around the age of 18 to 20 : NY cult movies, David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch

Louis Malle, Wim Wenders, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Eric Romer etc.

1st Turning point  Pic

In 1995, I received a large order from a public high school brass band club,

but most of the imported musical instruments were defective.

So I reorder the replacement product, but pans I received are also a terrible

defective products...hhmmm

After a year passed and all the budget was used up, then school's teacher suggested to me that we should call someone who could fix this defective products.

Then I decided to invite skillful pan tuner Denzil "Dimes" Fernandez, who lived in the United States at that time, to Japan.

Then He completely retuned all the defective products, and he had solved this problem perfectly.

I was Impressed by the wonderful his work, I decided to learn under him without hesitation,

and learned how to make a steelpans with the theory.

Since then, I have been making and selling my own steelpan.


In '99  '05, I had invited by a private elementary school in Hong Kong (何壽南小學) to participate in a steelpans tuning.

While tuning steel pans, I made steelpans by local oil drums.

In 2001,My steelpans was exhibited at MegaWeb in Odaiba Tokyo.

In 2002, I had invited by the National University of Arts

(National Academy of Performing Arts) in Taiwan.

While tuning pans, I made steelpans by local oil drums.

From 2000, I became a part-time teacher at a private junior high school

(Aleseia Shonan Junior High School) in Kanagawa Pref,Chigasaki-city.

I have been teaching a steelpan making class (general class) for 14 years.

2nd Turning point

In 2012, Suddenly I got a phone call from professor Mr,Sakurai of the Faculty of

Comprehensive Science,

National Hiroshima University asked me to research a metal plate vibration experiment.

Then I was so surprised to see the blueprint given by the professor.

It was quite similar to a Handpan instrument.

Since then, while continuing to making a steelpans, I have been immersed in the unknown world of specific frequency

experimental research and non-integer overtones while

receiving research funds from university institutions.


New musical instrument of non-integer overtones,

invented by the professor Mr,Sakurai

Musical instrument born from Watermelon.


This fresh experience was my big turning point.

From the end of 2013, the steelpan manufacturing work was

completely out of business.

Since 2014, I have been involved in the production of

my own Handpans.

sonobe© 2014 All rights reserved

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