When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

Steel pan ensemble performing

This Spring, we are thrilled to bring you a new Steel (Pan) Band Percussion Ensemble for high school and middle school students, led by Academy percussion faculty and Mason School of Music Graduate candidate David Singhaus. Repertoire will focus on the traditional “music of the islands” such as calypso and soca, but will also explore jazz, pop and classical arrangements!

David Singhaus, who is currently studying under Mason School of Music Steel Pan Faculty Victor Provost, brings a wealth of passion and experience to the classroom.

“I have a rich experience with the Steel Pan instrument,” explained Mr. Singhaus, “having learned how to play in my high school steel band at Dover High School (in Ohio), continuing to master the instrument at The University of Akron, and now studying and performing at George Mason University as part of my Graduate program. I have also traveled to the island of Trinidad to perform with the group known as the Nutrien Silver Stars Steel Orchestra to learn from the best of the best in the field. It was there that I performed for Panorama, the National Steel Band Festival, and also during Carnival. The positivity and pride I experienced gave me a new insight and mindset in how I approach the instrument, and I try honor those who helped the instrument become the success is has become today!”

The types of music associated with the steel pan are calypso and socaCalypso is the folk music of Trinidad and Tobago, and it’s style comes from West African Kaiso rhythms and Western European harmonies from the French. Many of the singers, known as calypsonians, would often use the music as social commentary, singing about a wide variety of subjects such as the government, international events, or most often about Carnival. Carnival, known in the US as Mardi Gras, is a religious celebration that takes place before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Out of Calypso came the music of soca, which is short for “Soul of Calypso.” Created by Lord Shorty in the 1970’s, it was created to bring together the African and Indian populations on the island by using musical rhythms from their respective cultures. It was also meant to bring the younger generations back to listening to traditional calypso music.

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