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Anthony Achong: “The Secrets of the Steelpan”

PANArt Publications de PANArt Hangbau SA

Anthony Achong - The Secrets of the Steelpan PANArt Hangbau SA

With ‘Secrets of the Steelpan – Unlocking the Secrets of the Science, Technology, Tuning and Operation of the Steelpan’ Dr. Anthony Achong is presenting his life’s work, a summary of his extensive studies on the steelpan. Here you can read a review by PANArt tuner Felix Rohner.

In 1995 I met Thomas Rossing, a well known physicist and acoustician from the USA, in Cancun/Mexico at the Congress of Advanced Materials. When I tried to involve him in a discussion, he soon realized that my knowledge of acoustics were quite pale and weak and he said: “Felix, first you have to read my book.” He was referring to his standard work ‘The Physics of Musical Instruments’ published together with the Australian physicist Neville Fletcher.

Of course, the first thing I did back in Switzerland was ordering two copies of the book because there also was the tuner Sabina Schärer. Now we had something to study on together. The challenge was to better apprehend what we were already doing with the hammer on the sheet steel and with the sticks in the steel band for now several years.

What a steep chunk of knowledge! Which laws apply to musical instruments, how do they work? At the same time we were building world instruments to verify what the theory says. The pang instruments were born this way: we studied drums, cymbals, gamelan instruments, gongs but also aerophones and cordophones.

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Excellent reading, academic and pragmatic, necessary for conceptualizing and defining the path forward in the evolution of the construction of individual voices of a steel orchestra. Thank you for sharing this refreshing breath of research and development When Steel Talks.

Dr. Achong has created something amazing here. Extraordinarily thorough and rich in detail for those who like to "see the math," yet it's anything but dry.

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