Ellie Mannette & the Beginning of TerraTonz's Path to Pan

Above: In the summers, my (ex)husband would spend months at a time in West Virginia. I would visit with our two children and his oldest son. Here we are pictured with Ellie. This picture pretty much reflects the feeling of that time.

TerraTonz is an LLC I established with my (ex)husband in October 2011. It creates a type of steel percussion musical instrument known as the TerraPan. The TerraPan is a type of handpan, which is inspired by PanArt’s Swiss Hang--itself inspired by the Caribbean steel drum.

TerraTonz set itself apart from other early handpan makers by directly reconnecting the modern instrument with its steel pan roots. We achieved this by making personal contact with Elliot "Ellie" Mannette. The Trinidadian musician who created and popularized some of the world's first Carribean steel pans, Ellie spent his later years traveling the globe and teaching his craft.

After leading instruction at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV, USA, Ellie became enamored to the school and surrounding community. His students began the University Tuning Project and later worked professionally alongside Ellie within the new steel pan production company Mannette Musical Instruments.

Ellie and his team helped my ex-husband harness his background in sculpture to learn to build TerraPans in 2012. However, we remained dependent on Mannette's experts to complete the tuning. As a result, we established the practice of driving back-and-forth between Georgia and West Virginia every month or so—a journey of approximately 11 hours one way.