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Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

Hi everybody,

I know lead sticks started out as just sticks without rubber and then people started wrapping bike tire tubing around the sticks. One of the things I don't know though, is how did sponge balls for bass pans come to be. Were those mallets ever wrapped rubber too? I have done some experimenting with wrapped rubber so I am curious as to how the sponge balls became the norm.



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Matt I would like to know who was the first to use the sponge ball, it's ovious that rubber on a stick could not give the sound they were looking for.

I am very curious to know where the word Mallets came from. I am certain it was not T&T.

Mallet is generally a word for a hammer-type thing. It comes from an old French word for hammer - "Mail".

Modern usages include a rubber mallet and a croquet mallet.

Thanks John, but that's not what I meant. How and why did Pansticks evolved to Mallets? I am certain that this did not happen in the place of its birth!

Sure. Different cultures, different lexicon. Likely, foreign musicians who are used to striking percussive instruments with what they have always referred to as mallets, using that terminology for what they see as another member of the percussive family. But despite the outcry of some purists it's not necessarily a bad thing; in fact it is a sign that steelpan is indeed international. After all, remember that


Bilna=rolling pin;


Quaver=eighth note;


Pitch=asphalt AND field,

...depending on whomever you are speaking to and where they are from. None are wrong, are they? Just more or less appropriate depending on where you are located. It's a big world, you want to present pan to it, expect people to interpret it their own way...

So very soon are we going to see Steelpan= ?

You very well may. After all, maracas have already been renamed in T&T "chac-chac", Cowbell "toc-toc", and guiro "scratcher". Don't be surprised or upset if it goes the other direction with pan in another culture.

What was......... = Piano? or .......... = Violin? or.............= Trumpet? Just curious.

Some people call a violin a "fiddle", and lots of jazz "cats" (not "players") call the trumpet a "horn" and piano "keys". The variety of language is a fact of multiculturalism, exemplified the world over and certainly in the cosmopolitan land in which steelpan was born. Remember the tenor pan was once called a ping pong, the guitar pan a grundig, the bass pan a boom, and so on...

I was at an Airport in the US once and heard the Customs officer called a Bass Steelpan a Dustbin! Hope we dont go back there.

That's because he didn't know what it was. Maybe eventually when pan gets more popularly recognized he will recognize it as the beautiful musical instrument that it is. However, he might call it a steel drum that is played with mallets. Better he call it a dust bin, eh?

pianoforte = piano

lira = violin


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