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Antigua

Published on September 28th, 2015 | by Antigua Observer

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Pannist says art of pan tuning & building is in a precarious position

The state of steelpan building and tuning is in a “dangerous” position as the country now has only one professional tuner. This pronouncement was made by professional pan tuner, Veron Henry, who also the captains the LIME Hell’s Gate Steel Orchestra. “We are very much lacking a professional tuner. Mr (Eustace “Gaytooks”) Harris is basically on his way to the finishing line. I might be, too, if you take my age into account once I live I may have a few more years to go,” Henry told OBSERVER media.

Steelpan originated in Trinidad & Tobago and forms an integral part of Antigua & Barbuda cultural identity. The history behind the creation of steelpans speaks volumes to the creativity and resourcefulness of residents. There are currently six persons in training at the government-run steelpan lab, but Henry said the training was started too late so that the new steelpan tuners do not have the years of experience to accompany the training to qualify as professionals. “I am doing my best to bring them up to status where they have the modern sound, but pan tuning and building takes years to develop, just as any other art. They are at different stages; some started as far back as a year and a half ago. We have about two or three on the verge of breaking through; with some more practice and self-confidence they can make it,” he added.

Harris is considered a premier steelpan tuner who has been building and tuning since the late 1960s and recently retired from the government service. He will continue his work privately though. Henry said he considers his colleague to be one of the better background tuners across the world. “I know that for a fact, if you speak to the plan players in Antigua, those who know, some of the most powerful background music sections you will find is from Mr Harris,” he added. With the veteran pan builder and tuner retiring, Henry said getting the bands ready for competition and performances is now a burdensome task for him.

http://antiguaobserver.com/pannist-says-art-of-pan-tuning-building-is-in-a-precarious-position/


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