Monday, 9 February 2009


When I was at school in the late 1970s, steelpan was part of our curriculum. We had to learn how to "beat pan" in Form One. We didn't know how fortunate we were to be exposed to our indigenous music. My generation grew up on pan. It was ubiquitous at Carnival time and from January to the end of February every year it was the soundtrack of our lives. Certainly we were told of the dramatic evolution of this music form; how it was born of oppression and a struggle for cultural supremacy. But by this stage it was so much a part of our lives, that I for one, certainly had no appreciation of the extraordinary genesis of this music form. At its heart it is the drumming of a nation. Social unrest and emerging nationalism in the late 19th and early 20th century provided a fertile environment for the development of the musical instrument that would come to symbolise our national identity. Most steelpan historians agree that pan was born of the strong African tradition of drumming that travelled with displaced Africans across the Atlantic. Drumming was recognised by the colonial government as a powerful force and was subsequently banned in the late 1800's. There ensued a battle for the very soul of Carnival. The French planters with their traditions of masquerade fought a cultural war with the emancipated masses who incorporated mimicry, lewd dancing, ribald revelry, and general "get-on-bad" behaviour as a way of making their mark on a new homeland and as a distinct "thumbing their noses" to the pretensions of the socially conscious upper classes. Ultimately Carnival as we know it today is the product of the rocky marriage of these social groups with influences from Indian and Portuguese indentured labour and the cocoa "panyols" from the mainland.Each wave of immigrants would bring their magpie offering to the Carnival.Today Carnival belongs to all Trinidadians - each year it expands and breathes a healing breath into the nation's pysche. Pan made it rudimentary appearance in the 1930's.
From Wikipedia.
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.[1] African slaves also performed during Mardi Gras celebrations, joining the French that had brought the tradition to the island.[2] 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.[3] 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.

The Eight (8) Finalists in the Small Bands category
Posted by Pan Times on February 9, 2009 at 4:43pm
Medium bands’ finalists will be announced on Wednesday.In addition to sweet pan music, patrons attending the Finals on Wednesday will have an opportunity to win two (2) airline tickets to any North American destination courtesy Caribbean Airlines.In other related news the Tobago leg of the National Panorama Semi Finals will now take place on Tuesday 10th February 2009 at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Tobago, from 8:00 pm.This change was due to the premature end of last Saturday’s event.As a result, the Tobago House of Assembly Conventional Champs competition scheduled for Tuesday 10th February will be held on a date to be announced.
Steelband Association of Trinidad and Tobago
UWI Steelpan Development Centre
World Music Festival
Steelpan Research
Robert Greenidge
Ray Holman Music
Lincoln Enterprises
Pan On The Net
Pan Neubean Steel
Steelpan Pelau
Steelpan Plus
Steelpan Research
Steelpan Manufacturers
Steeltone Music Inc.
Panyard Inc.
Trincan Music
Tropical Ensemble
T & T Instruments
World of Pan
The Rhythm Project
Steelband Music Catalog
Caribbean Music
Steelpan European
More Steelbands of Trinidad and Tobago