The Steel Drum Movement – Part II

Many localities in the United States and elsewhere around the world have small steel pan performing ensembles, which are typically two to six members. These small steel drum bands often play for weddings, barbecues, private parties, corporate events, and other occasions that require steel band entertainment. Their repertoire focuses mainly on more recognizable songs in the styles of calypso, soca, and reggae. In the United States, some of these small steel drum bands also include American beach music and other types of popular music that they restyle into calypso or reggae. A six piece band of this sort might have two or three steel drum performers plus a rhythm section of a drum set player, conga or percussion player, and usually electric bass. The steel pan bass instrument, called a six bass, has six full size barrels and it’s often too difficult to transport and could take up too much space in small performing situations. Hence, the electric bass is a good musical substitute for the … [Read more...]

The Steel Drum Movement – Part III

There are many individuals in steel pan that play mostly for their own enjoyment, much like a pianist or guitarist who makes music mostly in their own home. Some use “music minus one” backing tracks while they perform the melody on their steel pan. Others might play classical pieces, gospel music, as well as jazz and popular tunes in a solo style. While they may not experience the thrill of performing in a steel drum ensemble, they derive enjoyment and relaxation from playing alone on the steel pan. For many younger players, the purchase of their own steel drum instrument gives them a learning advantage over players who only perform in ensembles and can only access the instrument during rehearsal. Also, these players sometimes do not play at all when school is out of session or when a band is not preparing for carnival. This could interrupt the musical development of the student. The newer generation of players in Trinidad, the US, and Europe learn music notation as a student would … [Read more...]