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. The first instruments developed in the evolution of steelpan were Tamboo-Bamboos, tunable sticks made of bamboo wood. These were hit onto the ground and with other sticks in order to produce sound. Tamboo-Bamboo bands also included percussion of a (gin) bottle and spoon. By the mid-1930s bits of metal percussion was being used in the tamboo bamboo bands, the first probably being either the automobile brake hub "iron" or the biscuit drum "boom". The former replaced the gin bottle-and-spoon, and the latter the "bass" bamboo that was pounded on the ground. By the late 1930s there occasional all-steel bands were seen at Carnival and by 1940 it had become the preferred Carnival accompaniment of young underprivileged men. The 55-gallon oil drum was used to make lead steelpans from around 1947. The Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO), formed to attend the Festival of Britain in 1951, was the first steelband whose instruments were all made from oil drums. Members of TASPO included Ellie Mannette and Winston "Spree" Simon.
Posted by Pan Times on February 9, 2009 at 4:43pm
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