Over the years I’ve seen many exotic hand percussion musical instruments which, like the steel-pan are members of the idiophone family.
Though interesting and unique in their own ways however, none of them can compare to the steel pan, with its culture, history and acceptance as a legitimate musical instrument.
Indeed, I would suggest that they’d be more comparable to the grapefruit tin steel pans that some of us experimented with in our youth.
Incidentally, I would like to point out as an aside that the term “steel-drum” is technically incorrect; the steel-pan is a member of the idiophone family, whereas the drum is a membranophone.
So , our forbears were correct in insisting that the tuned steel drum was a “pan” , their name of choice.
Anyway, the steel-pan has two major advantages over other hand percussive instruments
The steel pan family of instruments is capable of recreating the entire musical range of a classical orchestra, and the steel pan is the only musical instrument designed and made to play in accordance with the Pythagorean circle of fifths.
(A link to the circle of fifths, courtesy Wikipedia).
This, as we know is one of the things that makes the steel pan a user-friendly musical instrument, capable of being played consistent with the natural movements of hand and body.
So, while exotic instruments like the “Rav Drum” and the hand drum or “Hang drum ” may have their appeal as curiosities, there is no comparison between them, and the steel pan family of instruments.
I know we tend to get excited by the latest fads, but even as individual soloing instruments, there are no comparisons, so let’s not get carried away, shall we?