Legendary Pan Innovator Rudolph Charles honoured by National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago

Legendary Pan Innovator Rudolph Charles honoured by National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago introduced David Rudder’s legendary song, “The Hammer”, which was about pan-pioneer and innovator Rudolph Charles.

As per the update by the National Archives, Rudolph Valentino Charles was the leader of the Desperados Steelband from 1961 until his death, and over the course of his life, he was instrumental in the invention of six new types of steelpan.

He was also a world-class steelpan tuner who was fondly referred to as “The Hammer” in the pan fraternity due to his habit of always holding a hammer in his hand, ever-ready to tune a steelpan.

Born on October 1st 1938, in Laventille, Charles became part of the pan fraternity in his teenage years, and by the age of 20, he joined the Gay Desperadoes Steel Orchestra as a cello player. He became a bandleader three years later due to his talent and his unique ability to read music.

In 1965, the band partnered with the West Indian Tobacco Company (WITCO) and was eventually renamed the WITCO Desperados. Under Charles’ leadership, Desperados won Panorama six times and performed abroad at Carnegie Hall in New York City and at the Royal Albert Hall in London, according to the update.

The Desperados steelband had acquired a mellow, harmonious tone with Charles’ expert tuning methods; however, Charles was still unsatisfied with this sound and began experimenting. Today, his inventions include the nine-bass, the yin-yang, the quadraphonic pan, the triple tenor, the twelve-bass, and the rocket pan.

Additionally, he was the first to use chrome steelpan instruments to enhance their sound. He was also the first person to utilise aluminium canopies to make the steelpan orchestras look more attractive on stage. He also held the somewhat controversial view that “steelpan was no longer the music of Trinidad and Tobago, but of the world” and believed that it should be explored globally, National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago informed.

In 2014, Charles was posthumously awarded the Chaconia Medal (Silver) for his contributions to culture. In honour of Charles’ legacy, Pan Trinbago created the Rudolph Charles Pan Innovation Award to encourage emerging pan tuners.