The steeldrum (pan) is the national musical instrument of Trinidad and Tobago developed in the late 1930's. The pan is the only original non-electronic musical instrument invented in the twentieth century. Prior to the invention of pan, lengths of bamboo were used during street parades to beat out rhythms and these bands were known as 'Tamboo Bamboo Bands'. In the quest of a cleaner sound, old biscuit tins and caustic soda pans were first used to replace the bamboo. Spree Simon and Ellie Manette are considered the pan pioneers in developing this steeldrum to what it is today.
The steel band is made up of percussionists whose instruments are fashioned out of oil drums. The process for creating a pan begins with the the beating of the tip of the drum into a concave shape (sinking), marking the pan into sections and hammering each one to correspond to a certain pitch (grooving). The pan is then cut from the top of the drum at a depth that will define its overall pitch. Finally the pan is heated for tone, and fine-tuning is done with a small hammer to complete the process. Pans are played with pairs of rubber-tipped sticks.
The three basic types of pan are tenor pans that play melody, rhythm pans that play harmony, and bass pans. The steel band, which can contain numerous performers, can play a wide range of music which include, soca, calypso, classical, rock, reggae, jazz, pop, latin and rhythm and blues.
|Instrument||Number of Drums||Music function||Number of Notes|
|High Tenor||1||melody||28 to 30 notes|
|Low Tenor||1||melody||28 to 30 notes|
|32 to 34 notes|
|Double Guitar||2||harmony||20 notes|
|Triple Cello||3||low harmony|
|Four Cello||4||low harmony|
|Tenor Bass||4||bass||24 notes|
|Bass||6||bass||18 notes (6x3)|
|9||bass||27 notes (9x3)|
|12||bass||36 notes (12x3)|