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Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

From time to time on this forum there have been discussions about the "circle of fifths" as it relates to the steelpan , it's creation and creators.

As a non musician , I've been highly intrigued by these discussions, and did some research out of curiosity.

Form the website "For Dummies" I found some information , which I quote in part, that may be of interest to those unschooled in music theory 

"The Circle of Fifths is a foundational tool in Western music theory"

"In the sixth century B.C., the Greek scholar and philosopher Pythagoras decided to try to make things easier for everyone by standardizing, or at least dissecting, musical tuning. He had already discovered pitch frequencies in musical instruments by vibrating different lengths of string, and he had defined what exactly an octave was, so he figured this was the next logical step and created something that is now called the Pythagorean Circle, which eventually led to the more common Circle of Fifths."

You can get more detailed information at the following website , though there are others:


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Good one Glenroy...

Has anyone ever made a PAN in half-steps (Chromatic)?

Merrytones: I have been looking for you to make sure that you have been using this link. Good for your students.


Cool…I'll check it out...

So obviously Anthony Williams was the one who adapted the cycle of fifths to the steelpan.

A Major accomplishment in the history of the steelpan !

Glenroy: I can't play a pan nor can I claim much knowledge in music theory -- but I have dabbled.  And I am of the opinion that if the PAN was constructed in a chromatic sequence it would have made learning music theory much easier for the THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of PAN MEN who spent all those hours practicing the pan. Counting half steps and whole steps would have been EXTREMELY EASY.as it is on the piano.

On the other hand, the layout of the CIRCLE OF FIFTHS PAN makes learning the scales EXTREMELY EASY to learn (predict) ... and the CHORDS. I will need to buy an E-pan from Salmon Cupid to make a direct comparison since his instrument can re-sequence the position of the notes.

Hi Glenroy

Note that Pythagoras did not create the cycle of 4ths&5ths .. the Pythagorean circle had just 8 notes and the intervals were problematic for transposition. It paved the way for the equal temperament scale most musicians use today and the cycle of 5ths. No-one really knows who created the cycle but the first diagrammatic representation is often attributed to Russian Nikolai Diletsky in the late 1600s. See Diletsky link here

NB: TW's claim to fame is that he appears to have been the very first to implement the cycle on a musical instrument. 

NB: Pythagoras' interest in music was reportedly peaked when he heard the difference in tones between blacksmiths' hammers and, upon inquiry, discovered a relationship between the tones he was hearing and the hammer weights. See Pythagoras and blacksmiths link. Wonder how he would feel today in the midst of panorama or in the tuner's shop!

I do appreciate your input Mr. Copeland. Though I'm no musician , as a steelpan and music lover I find this topic very interesting.

So it would seem that the CIRCLE of fifths which is referred to as one of the foundational tools of music theory led to the CYCLE of fifths , which led to Anthony Williams innovations.

Am I right ?

I sense a clarification of pan history here.

Hi Glenroy

I am as musically endowed as you are. Circle of fifths, cycle of fifths, cycle of fourths and fifths - all the same.Other cycles exist but once you establish 12 notes per octave all sorts of amazing structures emerge with the 4ths and 5ths. Its use in music in forming chord patterns and sequences is well known.

Tony did not create the cycle but, to his full credit as a master in musical intelligence, he derived it without even knowing of its existence  in an effort to reduce dissonance through note coupling on the pan. Pan Trinbago taped Tony's discourse of how he discovered it (I think this was in 2000 at a Carnival Friday (!) workshop on standardisation). Its there somewhere but no-one has released it.

His unique contribution (unique = no-one else!) was that he placed the 4ths and 5ths pattern for note layouts on  a musical instrument. That is of phenomenal significance because, as a musical icon it enhances playability, helps with music education and, adds further to the instant gratification that comes with pan performance.  Its the one inventive step that endows pan with the potential to be even greater than it is!

Well Well Well, Mr Infringer Plagiarist Brian R. Copeland, you shouldn't be concern with what Greek Mathematician PYTHAGORAS, and the Russian NIKOLAI DIETSKY did or did'nt do, it's what U did, is the issue at hand, U was supposed to seek written permission from the owner and or inventor of any Design Patent and Copyrighted item before you reproduce said item, and you also cannot Patent any already Patent and Copyrighted item any part of the world, and you also cannot revoke a Patent that is not your own, that's tampering and interference, therefore: the US Supreme Court will be INDICTING you soon enough, and as for the T&T claim that YOUR Judge Boodoosing said he dismissed, well you cannot dismiss a claim where you FAIL TO FILE A DEFENSE and the CLAIMANT has already file for JUDGMENT BY DEFAULT as ordered by the HIGH COURT, I'lluminatie / Lodge boy's or not, do not know what your Judge dismissed but it was not CV2014 - 00079, but you will be called before 's the QUEEN'S and PRIVY COUNCIL, let us see your relative the former former PM get you out of this one, you see, WE have friends in high places too, this not Techono Pan of 2004...

Ahhh .. another one comes out of the slime! Lemme see ,.. what was the claim? A 1 with about 27 zeros? More money than all the world's reserves? The court had the  right to throw out any matter that is frivolous and vexatious ( I should also mention poorly worded and patently stupid) ... and so it did. You forgot to mention the fact that the court ordered a 10000 payment that has not yet been paid. Also you forgot to mention the fact that all of this action was NEVER taken with the involvement of Mr Williams or the REAL North Stars... yes the truth will be told soon enough.

Sooooo tell me .. who is next on your list? Every tuner  who uses the 4ths and 5ths on their pans? How much royalty do you want from them?

Claude…yuh see why I stay quiet sometimes?...


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