jeudi 3 décembre 2015

The Instrument Behind Steel Pan Music

By Marci Nielsen

Melodic sounds thrill the soul, sooth the mind and comforts the spirit. But sometimes rhythmic sounds are simply there to rock listeners physically as they dance to tunes that appeal to them. This is precisely what steel pan music does. The pans go through an intricate process which enables them to produce the diverse range of sounds for which they are known. The instruments that produce these awesome sounds are produced through a very intricate process that takes a lot of physical and mental exertion.

Creating music by using the steel pans is an art that is closely associated with the Caribbean region. Calypso songs are enhanced by the accompaniment of sweet rhythmic sounds emanating from these musical tunes. Trinidad and Tobago's musicians are famed for being the pioneers in this area.

Even though the musical genre has strong ties to the Caribbean, the sounds produced are so diverse that they can be used to create the sounds of any category of musical expressions. These musical tools are found in rhythm and blues, gospel, reggae and many other types of bands. There is no genre that they cannot fit into.

The most authentic steel pans are made by hand. When making steel pans, experts first select the type of drum to use. Traditionally, they use drums that once contained oil. Drum selection is a crucial part of the process because the type of drum used determines the type of sound the resulting instrument will produce. The general rule is that the lower the pitch desired then the thicker the drum needs to be.

After selecting their ideal drums, they have to sink the bottom. They do this by beating the closed end of the drum in with a heavy hammer. This creates a bowl-like appearance. Some drums may burst during this process. The ones that usually burst at this point are those that are rusted, heavily dented or extremely thin. This is another reason to pay keen attention to drum quality during the selection phase.

Once sinking is complete, the drums must be tuned. This is done by first marking out the sections on the bottom that will produce certain notes and then flattening all the non-outlined areas. For the flattening task, a special tuning hammer must be used. This post-sinking flattening, is known as counter sinking.

The pan will have to go through a few other stages before it is ready for use. It must be grooved, set, cut and tuned. It then has to be coated with a layer that not only protects the look but also the adjustments that have been made to its surface. Then it must go through a step known as fine tuning and blending.

A steel pan goes through a very detailed and intricate process before it gets to the musician. The sounds that people around the world enjoy so much are the products of, not just the musical talent using it but also the expert craftsmen who exert much effort and expertise in making it.

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