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Saturday, August 8, 2009


Steelpans (also known as steeldrums or pans, and sometimes collectively with musicians as a steelband) is a musical instrument and a form of music originating from Trinidad. Steelpan musicians are called pannists.
The pan is a pitched percussion instrument, tuned chromatically (although some toy or novelty steelpans are tuned diatonically), made from a 55 gallon drum of the type that stores oil. In fact, drum refers to the steel drum containers from which the pans are made; the steel drum is correctly called a steelpan or pan as it falls into the idiophone family of instruments, and is not technically regarded as a drum or membranophone..

The origin of pan has been the subject of theses in the USA; the University of The West Indies also conducts research into the history of the instrument. Although there has been past debate to determine whether Trinidadians or Antiguans were the originators of this instrument, the history of pan has been well documented by authors including Stephen Stuempfle and Shannon Dudley and has been conclusively shown to have grown out of Trinidad and Tobago's early 20th century carnival percussion groups known as Tamboo Bamboo. Pan is the National Instrument of Trinidad and Tobago.

The steel pan evolved out of earlier musical practices of Trinidad. Drumming was used as a form of communication among the enslaved Africans and was subsequently outlawed by the British colonial government in 1883. African slaves also performed during Mardi Gras celebrations, joining the French that had brought the tradition to the island. The two most important influences were the drumming traditions of both Africa and India. The instrument's invention was therefore a specific cultural response to the conditions present on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

For many years now there have been attempts to use the steel pan in various contexts other than those with which it is stereotypically associated. The first known use of steelband in a theatrical performance (outside of Trinidad and Tobago) was in Harold Arlen's 1954 Broadway musical "The House Of Flowers" where Enid Mosier's "Trinidad Steel Band" performed in several of the numbers. British composer Daphne Oram was the first composer to electronically manipulate the sound of the steelpan after recording a band (probably Russell Henderson's Steelband) in 1960.

The first use of pan in a commercial pop record was by The Hollies in 1967 with "Carrie Anne" An international festival, the World Steelband Music Festival, has been held intermittently in Trinidad since 1964, where steelbands perform in a concert-style ambiance a test piece (sometimes specially composed, or a selected calypso) a piece of choice (very often a "classic" or European Art-music work) and calypso of choice. During Carnival celebrations in Trinidad, the largest steelband contest in the world Panorama takes place.

Among the best known Trinidadian solo performers on steel pan are Len "Boogsie" Sharpe, Ray Holman, Earl Rodney, Rudy "Two Lef" Smith, Ken "Professor" Philmore and Anise Hadeed. Liam Teague has worked to integrate the steelpan with conventional "classical" instruments in transcriptions and specially commissioned works. Many pannists have found that their instrument is particularly suited to use in jazz; in Britain Russell Henderson and Sterling Betancourt have utilised pan in a jazz context since the 1950s. Andy Narell is America's best known jazz pannist, along with Othello Molineaux. Ellie Mannette and Rudolph Charles are well known pan makers, along with Neville Jules and Dudley Dixon. [wikipedia]

So amazing they even make full use of used oil drums. Love to watch them in groups playing than solo. They are completely immersed with the rhythm and flowing freely as if in a trance. Cool..

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