Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music
This question is more for the seasoned veterans out there, but of course any suggestions would be appreciated. Last weekend I was at Miami of Ohio University's steelband festival with Michael Spiro and some of Indiana pan folks, and after Spiro's clinic on Afro-Cuban instruments Liam Teague asked him a question that I had never considered... The rhythm used as the typical count-off for Panorama tunes sounds like a Cuban rhythm, isn't normally heard anywhere else in steelband music besides the starting count, and isn't used in any other Trinidadian music (that any of us could think of).
First of all, if I am mistaken with anything above please let me know. Otherwise, do any of you have any thoughts on where this call-in came from, how long it's been used in steelband, etc? I guess I've just taken that rhythm for granted, and I don't think I've ever heard anyone speak of it's history. I understand that Latin music of all sorts have influenced and become part of the steelband musical palette, and have done so since pan's early history. It seems unexpected for that specific rhythm to be singled out and put in such a prominent place in steelband music, isolated from any sort of "Latin" section but instead counting off the band to start the piece.
I've asked a few people about this, and they have only theorized that the rhythm may have come from the 50's, when mambos were especially popular with steelbands. I would love to know the history of this rhythm... How far back has it been used (pre-Panorama?) Did the count-off actually come from mambos, rumbas or some other type of Cuban music; did it come from Venezuelan or other Latin American source; or whether it came from a Trinidadian source? How, when, where and by whom did this phrase become introduced and adopted into steelband music?
If any of you have thoughts on this, I would love to hear them! If there is anyone who can tell me if bands used that rhythm in the first Panorama, that would at least be a start. We've all heard this rhythm used to count off tunes, and I imagine it is understood by pannists across the globe. Until Liam raised this question, I had never considered where the pattern comes from and why and how it has become such an important part of steelband's musical identity. I'm not sure if anyone can give me an exact answer, but I would love to hear any suggestions people may have. Thanks everyone!
Life for Pan,
I'm pretty sure the first to use it for counting off was Boogsie Sharpe.
You can also hear it sometimes when iron men start to break away and improvise.
But in general 'latin' rhythms are part of the same vocabulary as calypso. The 3-3-2 subdivision which is so elemental to both. The two-bar feel of on the beat in bar 1, off the beat in bar 2 (which is very common in current soca rhythm). All that stuff gets shared.
That style of counting came from Boogsie Sharpe. The traditional count was done with an iron and the count was a straight four count. Anyone who have been around for some time can chime in.
Borneo (Desperadoes !967 - 1970) relocated to US.
I think it came from Steel the "motor car hub "that is used in steelbands today
in the forties and fifties steel was a major part of steelband rythm
there was no drum setas or other rythms except steel and a biscuit drum
that particular 4/4 ths timing was exactly how the steel player used to play
pang pang, patang pang , pang pang Pang Pang. with some alternations
its latin allright ,and i think it came from listening to spanish stations in the
old days from venesuela when all the radios in trinidad was shortwave
Triniidadians use to liaten to a lot of spanish music and most of it was 4/4 ths
timing if you linten to some latin beats today especially some "Sound Fonts "
you may still hear that beat.
i remember in the old days the bandleaders/arrangers set the tempo from the iron section. The iron section were usually in three parts.
You had the heavy bass iron setting the foundation with a sound something like "tokka tokka" the higher pitch answer that sounded like "likki likki".
This gave that "tokka-likki tokka-likki"sound.
Then you had the "cutter" who kind of freelanced within the beat. The leader usually would have a "cutting" iron, and this is what he would use to start the count.(Sometines it was done on the side of a pan)
.That beat on the iron to start the band is a modified version of "cutting".
I never gave it much thought as to where it came from, but I recall seeing and hearing that beat from way before the prominence of Boogsie or Ray.
Glenroy I know you are an old veteran in this thing and so do I; but that count off started with Ray Holman while he was in Starlift for Panorama when you hear that count off you know it was Starlift also the Guitar Pan Strum used by quite a lot of today steelbands was originated by Ray.
The count used by most steelbands in those days was the 1, 2 , 1234, Desperadoes, Renegades, All Stars and a few other bands still uses that count.