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Be Different With Steel Pan Music

By Donald Williams


Music, over the years, had somehow become almost a basic need. Everywhere people go, whatever they do, songs are part of it. For every mood, they associate it with a certain song. For every experience there is always music involved. You even have soundtracks in movies or your own life story.

To play it however, is something much more complex, as not too many can do it. But then there are others who are just so good. And because of that, music had evolved with so many instruments and various genres. Easily, pop is the most common. And the likes of steel pan music is not unheard of, although not as popular.

Amid the rise of electronics and its popularity far back in the twentieth century, the steel pan stood out well. This can be attributed to its simplicity, because it probably is the only instrument that came from industrial waste. Nevertheless sturdy, it became an icon of the culture in Trinidad, defining it with its Caribbean roots.

Dating back to the nineteen thirtys, the pans did not have it easy, originating in the Carribean island of Trinidad. This was when African slaves or descendants wanted so badly to express themselves and their music, by normally beating on metals. Hoping to find rhythms and the right kind of harmony, they were clamoring to find a way to match the songs at carnivals.

Even though some of the pieces they used were outlawed, like bamboo bands or banned skin drums, they went on with their trial and error process. Through endless experimenting, they finally produced the kind of pitches acceptable to the ears. While there may be so many version to its origin, it cannot be argued that it had come from that island and Tobago.

What makes it such a hit especially among those who likes hearing percussion, is its ability to be versatile. It can play anything from acoustic to calypso and even a Bach symphony. Bands formed from it gained international success when they were introduced one day in the fiftys at a British event.

After that, it had become an accepted not only in the music industry but as an art form as well. That had been a defining moment for the island it had came from because steel band was identified as a big part of its culture. Rightfully so, the pans became their national instrument. They later on played a big role in the independence of Trinidad.

Thereafter, it became stronger than ever, being introduced at various international and national festivals, even being played before the Queen of England when she came to visit. An association maintaining it, went on to provide activities specializing its kind of music. The pan movement became more widely known and organized.

This usually takes during the season of Carnival where pannists gather for the Panorama, a festival known as an important event in Trinidad. Competitions across the islands are also observed during February and March. In 1992, the pan became the official national instrument of the land as it continues to enchant those who watch and listen.




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