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Steelpan history

 Steel bands play all genre of music. There are classical steelbands competitions, calypso steelband competitions called panorama and steelbands plays pop, or classical music rearranged with a slow calypso beat this is referred to as a bomb tune. Steel pans are not only used as part of a steel band but are now integrated into string bands, brass bands, and as a solo instrument. Bosco has been playing solo gig in Grenada since 1990 and has taken his steel drum talent to Canada where he is doing solo shows at weddings, corporate functions, private parties and festivals. The steel band may be heard at restaurants and bar also.

Why the steel bands started?

 In the early 1880 the colonial government passed laws making the playing of drums illegal in the islands.This was done for fear that the people will send messages using the drums aimed at removing colonial rule.

In the eastern Caribbean Islands there was and still is a festival called carnival where drums were used during the street parade or rather street dancing with costumes.

Since music was an integral part of the carnival bamboo cut to various lengths were either beaten with sticks or pounded on the road to produces the music. This was when the 

tamboo bamboo bands were born. The colonials will again intervened in the 1934 outlawing the Tamboo Bamboo with the claim that it was the cause of rival groups clashes (fights).Bamboo can be a very deadly weapon.

 How steelbands developed?

 The first instruments were made from biscuit pans and paint pans were then used to produce the music. The steelband was a first percussive in nature but developed over the years to become the melodic instrument we know today as the steel drum. The material changed from original biscuit and paint pans to the 55gallons oil drum and currently a steel drum with a larger diameter is being introduced. A concave shape was first used for the steel pan now a convex steel drum is the standard shape employed.

 Instruments of a traditional steel band

Boom produced the lowest sound it was the replacement for the bass skin drum and bass bamboo.

Dudup  replaced the middle drum in a skin drum ensemble. This steeldrum plays a consistent rhythm using two notes. Dudups are still being used today.

Ping-pong as the name suggests was the lead steel pan instrument. Today the function is taken over by the tenor pan or soprano steel drum.

The shack shack, scratcher or garacha, bottle and spoon and the iron, provided the high frequency sounds.

 Who invented the steel drum?

There are many people and communities that had contributed to the development of the steelband, as we know it today. Most are nameless individuals who did this work only to provide pleasure to their people and themselves, to fill the void created by the ban placed on their primary musical instrument (the drum) and the love of music. Outstanding contributions were made by Winston “Spree” Simon, Elliot “Elle “ Manette, and Anthony Williams to mention a few steel band pioneers.

Instruments found in a steel band or steel orchestra

 Tenor pan                soprano

Double tenor           alto

Double second        tenor


Guitar pan

Triple Cello pan      baritone

Four pans

Tenor bass

Six bass

Seven bass

Nine bass

Twelve bass

A list of Toronto steeldands


Pan fantasy

Pan masters


Jesse ketchum pan Vibration


New dimension

Panwaves Phase II

Steelbands of Grenada

Angel harps steel orchestra

Commancheros steel orchestra

Corintians steel orchestra

Florida All Stars

New Dimensions

Pan lovers

Pan Wizzards