Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: Happy World Steelpan Day, wishes the National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago.
As per the update, from humble beginnings to being celebrated worldwide by the United Nations, the Steelpan has played an influential part in Trinidad and Tobago’s history – particularly as a symbol of rebellion and resilience during Carnival and Canboulay.
It is the only acoustic musical instrument to be invented in the twentieth century and is widely used in music around the world. This instrument was invented in Trinidad and Tobago during the 1930s in the communities surrounding the city of Port of Spain. It was through the development of the Steelpan that the tamboo bamboo bands evolved into steel bands, which have become an integral aspect of annual Carnival celebrations.
For this reason, the Steelpan has become the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago. There are many different types, and they all have their own individual sounds. Some of these include the “ping pong” pan, the double tenor pan, the “spiderweb” or circle of fifths, the bass pan, and the quadrophonic pan, among many others, as per the update.
The versatility of the Steelpan allows it to be used to play a wide variety of music, including calypso, soca, chutney, Latin, jazz, as well as classical music. It is also celebrated in festivals worldwide, from Panorama in the Queen’s Park Savannah to Notting Hill Carnival in the United Kingdom and at Pan Love in Japan.
Photo 1 shows the evolution of the Steelpan, from the 4-note ping pong pan to Ellie Mannette’s 19-note pan.
Photo 2 shows the range of various steelband instruments in comparison to a piano. Both of these photos are courtesy of the book, “Renegades: The History of the Renegades Steel Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago” by authors Hélène Bellour, Jeffrey Chock, Kim Johnson, and Milla Riggio.
Photo 3 shows a chart of the invention of the 4th and 5th spider web cycle tenor pan by Anthony Williams. This photo is courtesy of the book, “If Yuh Iron Good You Is King” by author Kim Johnson.
Photo 4 shows a diagram of the quadrophonic pan by Rudolph Charles. This photo is courtesy of the book “The Trinidad and Tobago Steel Pan” by the author Dr Felix I. R. Blake.