Steel Drum History 101
Courtesy of OUPblog
The steel drums (also colloquially known as steel pans) have a rich history. Click below to learn more about where they come from and how they're made!
The steelpan is the only new instrument invented in the 20th century.
Steel drums are possibly the only instruments made from industrial
by-products (typically recycled 55 gallon oil drums)!
The steel band developed directly out of bamboo stamping tube ensembles, which provided carnival music for the lower-class in Port of Spain after a British colonial law restricted the use of drums with skin heads.
Popularity of the steel band has grown. They are now plentiful in Caribbean diaspora communities as well as non-Caribbean communities all over the world. While Trinidad and Tobago continues to be the center, countries like Sweden, Switzerland, and Japan are now hubs of steel band activity.
Manufacturing steel drums is a highly specialized skill. Steel drums are not standardized, as competition between rival bands fostered innovation in tuning and design.