Pan Tuner’s Ministry - ‘Dimes’ invents fusion Vibe Pan
In the field of pan tuning, Denzil “Dimes” Fernandez is a living legend.
Unassuming and incisive, with a gift for nuances in sound, he is regarded as a pioneer, having developed several innovations with the steelpan over the years.
Fernandez, 75, is among the last of a dying breed of veterans, whose tireless efforts and dedication to pan tuning, paved the way for the recognition the instrument now enjoys around the world.
In an interview with Sunday Newsday at St Margaret’s Boys Anglican School, Belmont, with which he has been affiliated since 2003, a concerned Fernandez spoke about the shortage of pan tuners.
“We are not in a nice position at all, taking into account the fraternity has lost about 25 tuners within the last 25 years,” he observed.
“All the masters have gone – Lincoln Noel, Bertie Marshall, Birdie Mannette. And when are we going to replace them?”
Fernandez said, however, this sad reality has not prevented him from doing his part to preserve the art of pan tuning.
If anything, the loss of some of the pan’s creative geniuses has reinforced his determination to ensure the artform’s survival, particularly in the area of tuning, pan construction and innovation.
“It is a love,” he declared.
“It is not just about money because pan tuning and construction is my ministry. This is something that is spiritual to me.
“Of course, doing the work, you need a little money to survive but for me the emphasis was never on money.”
Fernandez said St Margaret’s Boys, which has claimed 11 Panorama titles over the years, was a testing ground for his latest invention – the fusion vibe.
He is also hoping the fusion vibe will be a dominant feature of the school’s 2019 Panorama presentation, Hulk, performed by Dexter Stewart (Blaxx).
The creation, he said, has already generated a buzz among his eager charges at the school.
“I have introduced it to St Margaret’s already and of course, there is excitement. They want to get these pans.
“But for Panorama coming. I am hoping they will use a few of them in it because I intend to push that vibe.
“I already have the double tenors, seconds, guitars. And I am working on the soprano right now.”
Fernandez, who has accumulated an impressive list of achievements over the years, said he also intends to use St Margaret’s Boys as a launch pad for any future innovation. He said the fusion vibe does not alter the configuration of notes on the pan.
“The notes stay in the same position but on the rim of the pan. And, by each note, I have what is called a synergistic generator, which is really a piece of metal,” he explained.
Fernandez said “some Maths” is also involved in getting the right quality and dimensions to the metal.
“So that whatever note that you play or whatever frequency that is generated by that synergistic generator, it is going to kick off a pan note if it’s on the same frequency as the pan.”
by Corey Connelly
Trinidad and Tobago Newsday Newspapers