mardi 1 mars 2016

The Beauty Of Steel Pan Music

By Dennis Wright

Every region of the world has distinctive aspects that are native to a particular country and its culture. Steel pan music can be found all over the world, but is easily recognizable as a feature of the Caribbean. More specifically, the birth of the steel pan - or steel drum - is on the southern-most Caribbean island of Trinidad.

Affectionately known as the 'pan', this instrument came to life in the nineteen thirties, after about 50 or so years of experimenting with various sounds on different metal objects. These metal objects were used as percussion instruments during a time when the hand drums brought by African slaves were banned by the British rule. This ban was a futile attempt to discourage Carnival festivities.

The drum was originally created using huge 55-gallon oil drums. These were pounded and polished to created the instrument as we know it today. This method is still one of the most widely used methods to make the steel pan, thought sheet metal as a starting point is also used. This is the only instrument to be invented during the 20th century, putting it in the history books forever.

The pan can be played alone or with other pans in what is called a steel band. The music is prominent during Carnival, and there are special events and competitions held to capture the title of the greatest band overall. Spectators are able to participate in the events and support the players live, enjoying the vibrant energy of the music.

The percussion instrument has always traditionally been used to celebrate Trinidad & Tobago's calyso and soca music. However, it can recreate any musical genre. There are samples of pan jazz music, reggae, pop and even Latin. The instrument has been found in hip hop music, used by rapper 50 Cent in his single "P. I. M. P.". Because of its growing popularity, there are often arguments over the origin of the instrument.

There are different types of pan for various tones or pitches. The frontline pans are those that play the melody or counter melody in a song. These include the tenor pan and the double-tenor. Mid-range pans are used to play counter melodies as well as offer harmonies to the melodies of frontline pans. They include the guitar pan, cello pan and quadrophonic pan.

The background section of a steel band is where one will find the pans with the lowest tones. These are responsible for the bass line that drives the entire band. Pans include the dudup, as well as the four-note bass. In the engine room, other instruments of a percussive nature are found, accompanying the pan in various ways.

Certain figures are prominent when discussing the history and development of this unique instrument. Anthony Williams is a big name in the discussion; he was the first to create the pan using oil drums. He is also the creator of the 'spider web' pan, which, due to its layout, has a much higher quality of sound. Winston Simon created the eight-pitch melody pan, while Ellie Mannette is credited with wrapping pan playing sticks with rubber, which greatly refined the sound.

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