Steel Pan of Trinidad and Tobago

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Created by Destin A. Dopwell (2015)
Many wonderful things come from my beautiful country Trinidad and Tobago, but out of all of them, the most world-Steel Panrenowned is definitely the Steel Drum, or as we Trinbagonians call it, the Steel Pan. We take a lot of pride in this percussive instrument, it being arguably the only new acoustic instrument to be created in the 20th century. In more recent years, technological advances allowed for development of an electronic version of the steel drum called the PHI, which stands for Percussive harmonic instrument. However, the original Steel Drum is still the more prevalent instrument of the two.

Pan is the center of a nationwide competition in Trinidad and Tobago called panorama. The best Steel Pan Bands, ranging in size from around thirty to one hundred members, come together to compete for money, endorsements and bragging rights, until the competition comes around a year later. To showcase our country’s culture, the bands play songs composed by local artist both young and old. These songs are usually very melodic and have simple motifs. The respective pan arrangers of the various bands then take these simple motifs and transform them into complicated works trying to best one another and lead their band to victory. For example, the song you are currently listening to is called D Hammer, composed by David Rudder. This song was arranged by Leon Edwards and it led the band Trinidad All Stars to a panorama victory. Typically, the band plays the main motif once or twice to familiarize the judges and audience with the song, then goes into the arranged sections of the song.

Len "Boogsie" SharpeMore recently, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, a virtuoso pannist and composer, composed a song called Magic Drum and collaborated with one of the Caribbean’s most famous artist, Machel Montano to foster the song’s appearance into mainstream music. This song was performed by the band Phase II Pan Groove in 2008.
Steel Pan is a truly magnificent instrument. From its brilliant yet simple construction to its smooth and warm tone, anyone will have an incredible time whether they are playing pan or listening to a pan performance. Steel Pan will forever be dear to the people of Trinidad and Tobago and as time progresses more and more people around the world will be captivated by the sweet sounds of the Steel Drum.



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