The Story of Pan
The steelpan or steel drum originated on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. The stories begin in the 1930s when the African descendants to express the music ringing in their heads started beating out rhythms and melodies on pieces of metal. From the forbidden skin drums and the outlawed tamboo bamboo bands, they were searching for innovative ways of making music to accompany the people’s songs and dances at carnival time. The steel drum or steelpan is the only acoustical musical instrument invented in the 20th century.
The steel orchestra is composed of instruments covering the full range of the conventional orchestra. Six categories of drums make up the orchestra: the tenors, the double second, the guitars, the cellos and four pans, the bass, plus the rhythm section. These instruments are made from used oil drums and are extremely versatile. Steeplan music includes not only Afro-Caribbean music but extends to jazz, pop, R&B and classical with all distinctive rhythms and tonality of the steelpan instruments.
Listen to steelpan music produced by The United States Steelband Association (USSA) from 2001 below: