Godan is a musical instrument project started by Jesse Smits. The name Godan is inspired by the Indonesian language which can name objects or situations with a word(s) inspired by its sound(s).
Jesse has a bachelor with honors degree in Music and Technology (2012). In his last year of his study he spends most of his time understanding how musical instruments work.
“By knowing how musical instruments work you have building blocks to design musical instruments”. Jesse explored a lot of musical instruments mostly in a percussive way. As he says:
“Musical instruments are the most infinite interesting and fun objects to explore and express yourself with”. In 2005 he came across a very special sound sculpture made by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer called the ‘Hang’.
This particular instrument had such an attraction to Jesse he experienced something he never experienced before.
“Wow this must be the most beautiful piece of art to connect your body and soul with, I need to experience this instrument on my lap”. Percussion combined with harmonics, designed in such a way the body and mind can freely move between rhythms and harmonics. Jesse fell in love. And couldn’t let go. It became such an obsession with years of love for and confusion about the instrument. He one day started building his own harmonic sound sound sculptures …. But before that, he made some experiments. In 2012 Jesse started hammering paint cans and dishes to try to understand some about stretching steel and how to work with the frequencies found in these objects. He combined robotics with tuned steel. Two interests he
had and combined this to create the following sound installation and exam project for his Bachelor in Sound Design called ‘Canned’: After tuning some paint cans and dishes Jesse bought some ‘Linotune’ software and a cooking pan. And one day soon after this he managed to tune his first steelpan style note with a fundamental, octave partial, compound fifth partial and double octave. This was a big celebration day and gave Jesse the no doubt feeling this is something for him…. Tuning steel. But you can imagine his enthusiasm for one note in a wok pan was pretty confusing for his friends and family. As stubborn as he was he wanted to learn more about tuning steel but, without a mentor.
Jesse purely learned to tune and control steel membranes by doing and exploring the possibilities in a singing membrane. This is not the fastest way if you can imagine. But this made him develop his own way of shaping and tuning instruments which gives Godan it’s unique sound and touch.
“It took me years to get sufficient control to be satisfied enough about the sound and behaviour of my instruments to enjoy them and still theres a lot to explore”. After having the chance to get help from Shellopan’s first batches of deep-drawn handpan shells to tune, things went greater and greater.
After some shells and instruments with cracked notes, The first Godan was finished 23th march of 2014. Now that the Godan handpan instruments got to a quality Jesse satisfies, he is making them for himself and other enthusiasts that appreciate the same taste in behaviour and sound of his instruments. Check out more about Jesse’s background on www.jessesmits.nl The Godan logo is made by the artist Merel Woudwijk. She managed very well to translate the philosophy about the Godan instrument and the path it needed to become Godan into a graphic logo.
Exploration, freedom, curiosity and growth.