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Caribbean

Published on May 31st, 2014 | by caribbeanlifenews.com

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The presence of Pan at present

The steelpan – or pan, as it is more widely called – is the bedrock of Trinidad Carnival. It is also an instrument that is part and parcel of calypso and soca music. The instrument’s versatility easily lends itself to jazz, R&B, gospel, classical music. The names Tony Williams, Bertie Marshall and Ellie Manette go hand-in-hand with the instrument’s evolution. And apart from Trinidad and other areas of the Caribbean, its impact, since its inception some seventy years ago, the instrument continues to play a major role in the music of the Anglophone Caribbean diaspora.

Fact: the steelpan is only instrument to be invented in the 20th century. And, according to Zahra Gordon in her article, “Steel-Pan Music: It’s Origin & History,” she posits: “Steelpan, the national instrument of Trinidad & Tobago, has become ubiquitous, with its music being found in numerous commercials for Caribbean tourism, in school programs as close to home as Grenada and as far away as Japan, and even in the song ‘P.I.M.P’ by rapper 50-Cent. Yet as popular as steel-pan has become, people seem to know very little about its origins. Many still think that the instrument is a Jamaican invention.”

This generally seems to be a veritable chronic problem with the inhabitants of the region. Indeed, the pan instrument, however, is still wending its way toward asserting itself as a more “visibly” recognized instrument in the pantheon of internationally recognized musical instruments. By its very structure the steelpan is an exquisitely beautiful chromatically pitched percussion instrument which is a joy to the ear in its character. Every so often one hears it here and there. But unlike other percussion, it is highly under utilized, in my view.

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