When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

Legendary Steelpan innovator, builder and tuner Bertie Marshall has passed

When Steel Talks extends sincere condolences to the Family, friends, colleagues and greater steelband fraternity, on the October 17, 2012 passing of Bertie Marshall of Trinidad and Tobago - legendary Steelpan innovator, builder and tuner.


Noted historian, journalist and film maker Dalton Narine writes:

“Bertie Marshall, 74, is a dreamer and trailblazer. A tuner of forceful personality who impressed his will on Pan.

“A harmonica player, he strove to achieve harmonics on steel. Not a single note played on the instrument in the 1950s, even by the top steel bands, resonated in his ear.

“Each note lacked something crucial to music. The blending of several notes or harmonics to beget the dominant note. That’s what Marshall accomplished through experimentation.

“As in religion - well, as in pan - every scrap of information is subjected to subjective interpretation. Anthony Williams will forever be in conversation. In 1953, Williams of North Stars, also was tinkering with the sound. Using a peculiar grooved design he termed the spider web, Williams found that by hammering octaves on each corner of a note he had eliminated overtones. However, while tuning pans in New York City with a strobe in 1969 for a Madison Square Garden concert featuring Trinidad’s most famous pianist, Winifred Atwell (accompanied by North Stars), the gospel truth did not elude Williams. “It was the first time that I had [knowingly] tuned with harmonics,” he recalls.

“By that time, Bertie Marshall’s Highlanders had won two Bomb competitions in Port of Spain. Led by a single electronically amplified tenor, the harmonically empowered steel band marked a milestone in Pan in 1965 when it performed Handel’s “Every Valley Shall be Exalted,” and, two years later, the most complex Bomb tune of all time, Rossini’s “Italiana in Algeri” (Italian Girl in Algiers). Even the basses and a couple of other pans were amplified for the 1967 road jam.

“Since that glorious epoch of the 1960s, Highlanders - and, by extension Pan - sprung up like a grass fire. The Bertie Marshall film attempts to capture the flame of his genius, and explain Highlanders’ exalted place in the pantheon of Pan.”

click to see film


Views: 1596

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Bertie Marshall,Desperadoes,the people of Laventille and also by extension Behind the Bridge. May your soul rest in peace.

We rejoice and celebrate the sterling contributions he made to PAN, Trinidad and Tobago and to the heritage of world music. I regret the fact that WE (T&T) did not harvest his vast experience, intuitive talent and knowledge for posterity and its contribution to our positive national self image.

Goodbye Bertiie.

Now who will write the book/s/websites that will nourish current and future generations?

Also.My Deepest condolences to the Family of Bertie Marshal! Rest in peace.........

Condolence to Bertie family and Desperadoes and may his soul rest in peace Bertie you was one of the greatest to pass through our beloved country


One more of our legends and Icons has gone to the great beyond, With great Respect and Heart felt Condolenses to his family and friends, I honor our Beloved Bertie Marshall.  He has brought Joy to many of us with his tuning and arrangeing ability and is one of last great Steel band men who was Captain- Arranger and Tuner. This is a sad day in life of the Steelband World that Bertie has passed on. '' We give thanks to our Creator Almighty God for the gift of Bertie Marshall.

'''May he rest in Peace''  Thanks Bertie for all you did for Pan.'' We will never forget.

i'm VERY proud to have one of his bore pans in my house!

My sincere condolences to the family and friends of Bertie. May he RIP.

A true genius.  RIP

Our sincere condolences to the family and relatives and friends of this legendary man Bertie Marshall. We have now truly lost a Titan in this field of Steelpan. ....may you rest in Peace ...you certainly have done your part for the Pan the Fraternity, your country and the world.

Salah & Family

I extend my deepest condolences to the children of Bertie Marshall, Claude and Claudine for their significant lost of their farther. RIP 

Condolences to the family ,friends and wider Steel pan fraternity.It is a thing of note to me that trinbago as a society doesn't show the gratitude to our pioneers who under severe conditions shaped something of beauty for us.This approach is working against as a Nation .last night i was looking at a Carlos Santana concert and in thanking his audience he said that ''Thank you'' is the greatest prayer .Have we expressed gratitude in the way that we took care of him as a Nation?Are we going to  honour his memory by restoring pan in schools to an even higher level are are we going to remain silent while his sacrifices go dishonoured.wake up t and t.  Ase

My deepest sympathy to his family, the pan people worldwide and to the pan family. May He rest in Peace


© 2020   Created by When Steel Talks.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service