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Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

On the subject of the development of the pan in the early days, I got this information from noted Trinidadian historian, journalist and writer, Bukka Rennie and I was really impressed with his detailed knowledge.
As we delve into the history of the steel band, we are fortunate to have culturally well informed individuals around , willing to share their thoughts and knowledge with us.

According to Mr, Renie,

"What most people miss is the transition in the developmental process of the steelband. We move from "cuff-booms" (no notes and played with the cuff of the palm) to "du-dup" (two-notes- also called "bass-kettle),then to "three-note" (also called "tenor-kettle'); What you heard on "Lion-Oh" by Hell Yard and recorded in Feb 1940 were "Three-Note" pans played by Eric Stowe and Hamilton Thomas (Big-Head Hamil).

All that were done with these pans were what we call "riffs", rhythm. The first pan that could play melodies was the "Ping-Pong" (four-notes). There is a tendency to confuse things and call three-note tenor kettles, "ping-pongs".

Big Mistake.

Ping-Pong is the 4 note pan. First created by Neville Jules in 1945.

The Blanca recording is the first recording of "ping-pongs".

On that 1947 recording of Brown-Skin Girl there were two ping-pongs played by Philip Dunbar and Don Henry, Wallace Reed was on iron and du-dup and Sidney Corrington played an "oblong piece of steel, he played the length of steel using his fingers to vary the tone". In other words he played the Dhantal of East Indian origin. Still very rudimentary in the developmental process."

Outstanding work, Mr. Rennie.

On a personal note, I always knew that our Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra hero, Mr. Neville Jules was a significant contributor in the development of the pan, but I did not know that the quiet unassuming gentleman that I met on Labor Day actually created the four note "Ping Pong".

As you can tell, I'm learning a lot of this stuff myself.

We are fortunate that there are still people around capable of giving first hand information about these developments, for the historical record.

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4 note Bass drum created by Jules,http://www.triniview.com/darway/0103058.html

Glenroy, it's not about criticizing your story, its just that I always used to hear about Neville jules on Basses  and Guitar pan, grundig never used to hear him bout Tenor pan or ping pong.  

The first thing to establish here is if what the books are saying now is incorrect

Cecil: Go on WST and listen to Neville Jules IN HIS OWN WORDS. The interview is about an hour long and you have to listen very carefully. I only took issue with ONE SENTENCE.

I see the term "Ping Pong" and so I can share what I heard Mr.Spree Simon said in a TV interview. He said they used to practice in the back yard of a Chinese Gentleman who had a shop and they took part in a competition but did not win. The next morning the Chinese man asked him if they had won and he said no and his response was " every night all yer beating Ping Pong, Ping Pong and all yer gone now and loose. Spree said this is how the term Ping Pong came into use in Steel Bands. Someone mentioned here Spree playing a 4 note Pan, so if this interview could be sourced from the TV Stations, it would add some very interesting facts to this topic. What I've written here is no joke or making fun it is TRUE so we should try to get that interview aired again. Thanks.

Steve: And this is what Norman Darway had to say in "The development of the steelband" -- which is the common denominator in the point that I was first trying to make ... many many opposing and contradictory reports. Not to mention the Johnny-come-lately writers who are looking to pimp the pan.


and it was in 1939 the same year, that the guy called Victor "Totee" Wilson who was from "Alexander Rag Time Band", who take one of the paint pans and tune it to the chiming of the Q.R.C. clock. The Q.R.C. clock goes 'Ping Pong', 'Ping Pong' every hour, so when he did that, he told them, 'look ah have meh Ping Pong'.




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