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Does it annoy you when people use the phrase Steel drum band?

I wish to get a proper feel of the reaction to this question and would appreciate your response.

As popular as it is, thousands of people searching on Google for this type of band would enter the phrase "steel drum band" in the search query instead of the phrase steel pan or steel pan band; some even type the phrase Jamaican steel band, which I find annoying for obvious reasons. The term "Pan" is not as ubiquitous as the phrase steel drum band which is quite accurate when defining and describing the band. Outside of the Pan world, customers looking to hire the service have conducted more searches for "steel drum band" than any other variant when looking for a band. To reverse this trend would require a mammoth marketing exercise starting with the film Pan! Our music odyssey becoming a blockbuster. It would also require the government of T&T to do something that they have failed to do for decades, which is to take the initiative in promoting Pan to a global audience. The reality in 2014 is that the American bands have huffed the instrument and taken the initiative going forward. The phrase "steel drum band" is used on all of their major entertainment websites that offer the service. Clearly, there has been a shift towards the use of the phrase steel drum band for commercial reasons, but is that a bad thing if more and more customers are employing musicians who are skilled in the art of playing Pan?

What's your take on this? Do you think that there is an undo button for this misnomer? Does it matter?

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Steel Pan, Steel Drum, Pan, a rose by any other name would sound just as good as long as it's Sweet Pan!!!



I dislike the words Steeldrum, Steeldrum band, Mallets or any word or terms used to attempt to rename Our National Instrument and its historical significance to its birth place.

Words have meaning  and names have power, a knowledge  shared by the conquerers of old  the and advertising industries of today. "Steel pan" was the name given to the instrument by the people who invented it, "steelband" and "panstick" are theirs too.

To replace those terms with "Steel drum", "Steel drum  orchestra" and 'mallet' ,are not simply convenient ' translations' but. abrogation of ownership and denial of origin. It also classifies the instrument in generic, rather than specific terms.

For example : (A Mercedes Benz is a vehicle, but all vehicles are not MB's.)

Vehicle -automobile-Benz


Tool-mallet- panstick (brandname?) 

Orchestra-steelband- conventional- (name of your pan side here)

Does it matter? Yes it does, as Tony Morrison put it: :"Definitions belong to the definer, not the defined".

Be the definers!

I am  a Belmont Boy 76 years old.  I  do not like the phrase "Steel Drum Band"      I always knew it as Steel Band which is played in a Pan Yard.   I was  a member of Dixieland STEEL BAND"  1955,55,56. Please leave the Original name Steel Band.   Sincerely Charles Assevero, Plano, Texas

Historically, it is easy for a big industrialized country to redefine the inventions of a small country and spread their definitions around the world .  Unless those with the skill and foresight in the small country had the tenacity to define their inventions for themselves. For example, reggae music in Jamaica. The inventors of the instrument called it steelpan. Why should it be called something else?  More than 65 years after its invention the word has not been defined or entered into any standard dictionary. Neither have any of the other words associated with the instrument been defined and entered into any standard dictionary.  If these definitions, as intended by the inventors of the instrument, were entered into standard dictionaries, this would not be a discussion. Notice how the word "steelpan" is always underlined in red?  It has not been defined in standard dictionaries. 

I am a pan player, I always have been and always will be. I get my instruments serviced by a pan tuner not a drum tuner.
I go to Panorama not drummerama. I play in a steelband, orchestra is a bit over populated for me. A steel drum is the raw material that pan makers and tuners use to make steel pan musical instruments. Calling a steelband or orchestra a steel drum band is like calling a string quartet a tree band, or wood & gut band. I also dislike the other american term "pan band" When some thing can be done to rectify this I will be very happy.

I THINK the word drum is used for instruments that's covered with skin or something like a skin.

Maybe so, Cecil ... technically speaking.

But I believe there is more to it.  There is an underyling resentment of the modification of the original terms [steelband, panman, panside] because of a pervasive lack of marketing on the part of their indigenous creators to use our own vocabulary, which may (possibly) reflect some deeper conflict attempting to meet apparent outside standards [steel drum band, panist/panist, steel orchestra].  Not that the latter terms are not technically correct, just that that should not be the reason.


Please listen to Paul Francis. He said it simple and easy to understand.

The term might be annoying to most pan people.  But the truth is that a Steelband is simply; a band playing tuned steel drums.

Bugs Bro. In all Honesty. I don't have a Problem with the Steel Drum as a Name. It's really a Steel drum, which is Still a novelty to many People. Whatever name they calls it. To me means nothing. I just want them to tell the World that T&T are the Creators / Inventors of this Wonderful Musical Instrument.

An excellent comment. As mentioned in the article, the government of T&T should have taken the initiative many decades ago to help in the development and marketing of Pan. Today, with the use of an effective social media campaign they can still create a Pan Hub online and promote the music of the top players and, at the same time, sell the beauty of Trinidad & Tobago. This forum at WST is fantastic, but I'm talking about another level; getting into the elevator and going up. It requires some skill to do this, but they can easily source that talent and carve out a strategy to make it work. Then, there is the film called Pan! Our Music Odyssey; the trailer looks good and would help to clarify the journey of the instrument to a global audience after some further refinement. The government should be taking the opportunity to endorse that project as part of the same strategy. Regarding the term drum, it is too late to jettison the drums on this journey since it befits the description which characterizes the bands. Pan, is a great name for the instruments, but I think that drum should continue to be attached to any description of the actual bands because drum and drumming goes all the way back to the DNA of what created Pan at the beginning.


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