Where Was The Steel Drum Invented?

Where Was The Steel Drum Invented

Steel drums, commonly known as pans, are the only chromatic acoustic instrument family invented in the twentieth century. They are Trinidadians, and their interesting past is inextricably tied to the tradition and tenacity of the island. The steel tongue drum belongs to the same family.

You could see yourself relaxing on a tropical vacation when you think of the steel drum. But did you realize that the steel drum was created as a result of hunger and a local drum ban? The steel drum emerged in the late 1930s on the island of Trinidad as part of a steel band, a percussion group concocted by lower-class rebellious teenagers.

How It Began

The island of Trinidad has been governed by Spanish, English, Dutch, and French colonialists at various times. In 1783, African slaves were taken to Trinidad to serve on the sugar plantations. Carnival and Canboulay (the burning of the sugar cane fields) were common street festivals on the island, and as the slave population increased, African drumming became an integral part of these celebrations. As slavery was abolished in 1838, workers from other nations, including those from East India, were introduced. With this recent wave of people and music came the Hosein and Ramdilla festivals, all of which included a lot of rhythm and drumming.

Used in Street festivals

During the 1860s and 1870s, street celebrations were rowdy and rugged. Drums were outlawed by the capitalist elite in the 1880s due to concerns that they were being used to transmit coded messages. The colonialists replaced the drumming with more melodic drums in parades and festivals. As a kind of resistance, the Tamboo Bamboo campaign emerged, which consisted of cutting strings of bamboo and stomping them on the earth. The lower classes invented four distinct instruments as a kind of protest against those in power: the boom, chandler, fuller, and cutter. Throughout the 1930s, this art form served as a focal point for musical and political expression.

The song has been enthusiastically welcomed by the pop world. The Hollies used the steel pan sound in their song Carrie Anne, Prince used it in his song New Position, and 70s jazz-fusion band Spyro Gyra used it in their song Morning Dance.

Movement of Tamboo Bamboo

The Tamboo Bamboo movement represented oppression and suffering, and gradually an aspect of violence emerged. tambour Bamboo bands were banned when competing bands used the bamboo to battle each other. Simultaneously, the desire for creative expression by rhythm persisted. Gangs began banging on metal dustbins, biscuit tins, and trash lids, combining the noises of bamboo and metal. Metal gradually substituted bamboo, giving rise to the concept of pan.

WWI's Aftermath

Carnival was suspended in Trinidad and Tobago during WWI, however the sounds of pan began to evolve. As musicians struck metal surfaces frequently, they noticed that the pitch shifted. By 1948, 55-gallon oil drums were widely accessible from the island's oil refineries. Pioneers of the steel drum include Ellie Mannette, Winston "Spree" Simon, and Tony Williams, who produced the 12 notes of the chromatic scale on a single pan. When Carnival festivities returned in Trinidad after World War II, the steel pan quickly became an integral aspect of the street festival.

Where Was The Steel Drum Invented


Steel drums have evolved until the present day. They are now the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago, having risen from the lowest rungs of society to the most opulent concert halls on the planet. They really reflect the voice of a multi-cultural people.

About the Author Mike Chua

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