Pan has always been the source of enjoyment and revelry among the citizens of T&T, and now with the evolution of the E-Pan the enjoyment is heightening. Imagine standing in front of a mammoth crowd engrossed in a musical competition of steel. The crowd swaying, the performers dancing, and the pan’s glaze from the lights reflection, make things come alive. Having winning songs such as; Woman on the Bass (All Stars), Battle Zone (Silver Stars) or even Musical Vengeance (Phase II), all played on the E-Pan. This is just a small imagery where pan can lead in the near future. Salmon Cupid, the inventor of the E-Pan, is an Ambassador for T&T, and a Canadian based, Trinidadian born pan teacher. He has played with bands such as St Augustine Senior Comprehensive Steel Orchestra (The Green Machine), and Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra.
Even before Cupid began playing pan, he realized it was somewhat of a challenge to generate a good acoustic sound from pan bands, when accompanied by a microphone. He then set out to bridge that gap; not knowing how and when it will be done, but having the foresight of this invention. “Turning the traditional steel pan into an electronic format involved a lot of circuitry and a computer, which was built from scratch. Pan tones are just one of the tones that the E-Pan is capable of producing, and a lot of software had to be written. The E-Pan is just an electronic version of the steel pan,” Cupid said in an interview with Gayelle the channel. “The E-Pan can play any particular tone from different musical instruments, such as the Violin, Guitar, Trumpet, Piano etc. It changes octave, and has an octave control switch and pedal which allows the player to go up to Tenor and down to bass.
“Before, pan sticks were required to play the traditional steel instrument; most players used two sticks while those that were more skilled used four. Now with the E-Pan you can simply use your hands,” he explained. “You can also use headsets to avoid disturbing other pannist, while you improve your craft silently. Therefore, in a classroom setting, you can have a complete orchestra and the teacher who can also wear a headset will be hearing everyone. The E-Pan has the capability of the player pressing a button on the instrument to access different tones of tuners of their chioce. This feature allows for our tuner’s steelpan tone and colour to be preserved,” he added. “The invention of the E-Pan is a historical step, in the history of our national instrument and T&T, and was not designed as a replacement, but as an addition to the family of the traditional steel pan.
The device is a technological master piece, and it will revolutionize the way steel pan is learnt. The pan which is not made of steel but mostly rubber padding is an electronic mirrored version of the traditional steel pan. With years of trials and tribulations, the E-Pan which was a 25year old idea, from Mr. Cupid, is now complete and patented worldwide. One of Cupid’s biggest aims and objectives is to put Steelpan on the map on a larger scale. His dream is to see steelpan receive Grammys. Since developing the E-Pan, he has also been able to use his invention as a platform to encourage young people to pursue their dreams. Cupid has done production versions for the Tenor E-Pan and the Double Seconds E-Pan and at present is working on the Double Guitar E-Pan.
FAREWELL MASTER BERTIE MARSHALL