The Roots of the Steelband Rhythm section

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The Steel pan is a beautiful creation originated in Trinidad & Tobago in the late 19.30's and is the only orchestral family of acoustic musical instruments to be invented in the 20th century. With instruments ranging from low bass to high sopranos, all made out of the same raw material (oil drums) makes this invention a magnificent achievement for people of Trinidad & Tobago. This article looks at the roots and some of the early instruments that were & is still being used in the Steelbands

Submitted: January 21, 2011

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Submitted: January 21, 2011



The Steelband was developed from the Tamboo Bamboo bands of Trinidad, players would hollow out Bamboo sticks and cut them to various lengths to create a variety of different pitches, and these were beaten on the ground to pulsating percussive rhythms.

Many of the bands would parade the streets at Carnival time. these bands had names like dead end kids who eventually changed to Gay Desperadoes steelband, Red Army -became Renigades, Hell Yard band became Trinidad all Stars, to mention few, . The bands would also use garbage cans, biscuit drums, car break hubs, and various mettle objects to produce sounds, hence the birth of the Steelpan as we know it today. Steelbands still take a lot of pride in insuring they have a good Rhythm section made up of seasoned players

The rhythm section or ( engine room ) of the band is made up of various instruments that all work together to keep the pulse and timing of the band.

The Drummer certainly has a tremendous Job keeping the timing for the band filling in with drum roles to embellish melodies and arrangements

A cowbell is normally played like a metronome to help enforce the consistence of the beat. Other instruments like Congo's and Tambourine Scratchers are also used. Each player puts there full heart and soul to playing there instrument, Every instrument is consider as inessential to making a band sound good.

The Steelbands & percussion bands play a leading musical outlet for people within the community. Men Woman and Children all take part within the bands

Many Rhythm bands still do regular performance at Carnival. To hear these band live you can't help but dancing to the pulsating beats, the bands are very large and powerful

The early Steelbands carried the pans on straps around there neck. With a very a lot of attention focusing on the rhythmic arrangements of the pans combined with catchy melodies creates a unique sound to the single pan bands. Up to date competitions are still held at Carnival time for the single pan bands

For more information on the Steelbands, performance & educational workshops please visit

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