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The evolution of Pan

Published: 29 Jul 2010

The E-Pan

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.


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Then Came the E-Pan
Long before Salmon Cupid living in Canada invented with the E-pan, Bertie Marshall in the 1960's was expirementing with amplication and other elements of the steelpan instrument. Out of his best efforts came amplify steelpans for Highlanders Steelband and a highlight of 1966, Bertie steelpan instrument used electro-magnetnic transponders, not microphones he also experimented on expanding the quickly decaying character of Pan notes. Bertie invented that was not completed, called the "Damper" futhermore, the government of the day did not support the research and development required for this program at that time. The World should know that Bertie Marshall is the Godfather of Electronic Steel Pans. The E-pan and also the PHI are Synthersizers made in the shape and formation of certain aspects of the steel pan instruments; the popularly used cycle of 5th low C Soprano and the Double second instruments tuned from F#. However, the Steelpan family of instruments still has its original concepts and layout such as the "Invaders style" which is most likely to remain unsynthersize. These instruments are the true voices of the Steelpan from the start; The Tenor has low B below middle C and the Alto has low E below middle C. The Steel Pan Instrument will always be able to play alongside any other instrument, its about inviting more interaction with other instruments on a larger sacle.
Hameed Shaqq I do not think that you will ever get it nothing that you are saying is correct other than" Bertie Marshall in the 1960's was expirementing with amplification of the Steelpan"
There is a big difference between amplification which means in this case miking as you put it "magnetic transponders" and electronic in this case the E-Pan's mother boards,chips,sensors, software and other technological components etc. A "mic" and a magnetic transponder use the same technology. Have you ever opened a mic and a speaker before as a kid? They all work with magnetic technology. You should try opening. You might learn something new.

The E-Pan and the phi are also different. The E-Pan is a stand alone instrument which can also work as a controller if the user so desires. The the phi is simply a controller and needs to be plugged into a computer or external device to produce any sound from the additional speakers which you would have to buy or use as well. Please, do I have to explane the difference to you again? The E-Pan has utility Patents, the phi does not. The phi has a design patent for an aparatus using MIDI. Anyone can come up with one and get a design patent. Hameed, do I have to explain the difference between a utility and design patent as well? Maybe you can take a listen to this 2-part interview.

PART 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz0DKQz7A44&feature=player_embedded

PART 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B68pSvnq2XE&feature=related

The first utility patent I got was from the United States. Check out this link http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITO...

THE PHI IS A COPYCAT VERSION OF THE E-PAN. If you so wish you can listen to this interview ... two parts as well. It is called E-Pan vs phi.

PART 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDZGCTycb_4&feature=related

PART 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ65rkE9GBQ&feature=related

I know you all will enjoy this video. It shows the E-Pan and the traditional Steelpan in a street performance. The traditional steelpan is miked, the E-Pan, of course, is plugged directly into the house speakers. You will clearly see where the steelpan player, playing the traditional steelpan, the notes are not coming through clearly in outdoor performances as I always speak about. Some common reasons for the traditional steelpan sound being affected in performances are the positioning of the mic, if it is too windy, if the player has too much rubber on his sticks or not enough rubber etc. etc. When the E-Pan is played, every note is heard clearly. Take a listen. You be the judge. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFvK9fXaEGw


The E-pan will allow non-tradional steel Pan enthusiasts to better understand the authentic instrument. This can be an excellent introduction into expanding to the broader world of musicians. I will advise Mr Cupid to create investments for a smaller version of the E-pan and target the Toy Industries along with whatever is his the main project. Smaller E-pan can be marketed as an introduction to the real steelpan instruments.
Hi there Hameed, we are not entirely on the same page but close enough. My thoughts are that the E-Pan is what it is, and traditional Pan is what it is. Both should never be commingled together. I am the first to recognize/admit the weaknesses of pan and the strenghts of the E-pan. My point is, they are both masterpieces of Caribbean ingenuity and creativity and each one should be advanced down its own path on its own merit. We should NEVER advocate that one eventually replaces the other. I know that this is not YOUR arguement, but I have heard it over and over again. It is widely said that PAN is the only musical instrument invented in the twentieth century. The more acurate statement is that PAN is the only FAMILY OF INSTRUMENTS invented in that period. To me this is where the rubber should meet the road with the E-PAN. The technology has been proven, we have the know-how. I would like to see Mr. Cupid go back to the drawing board and develop and entire family of instruments. Before I go to my grave, it would do my heart good to hear one of the worlds great symphonys being played on an orchestra of E-PANS. Peace!
You go Foy and kudos to all who delve into innovation. I hope that someone is looking into enhancing the pan bass. We need more umph. I heard a 4-man side and what a great difference the bass guitar made.
I am using the bass guitar as an example for umph. (lol)
Salo is working on just that with his e-pan.
I've been trying to figure out exactly where the e-pan fits into the steelband world, and I think I have some answers.

Firstly, the Electronic pan can never replace the steelpan .

The beauty of the steel pan is its humble beginnings, and the fact that it is actually made from a steel drum.
So unlike the G-pan which is an attempt to update and improve the existing instrument, the E-pan takes us to a different place entirely.

I can see the E-pan being used by pannists who wish to expand their musical horizons into composing and arranging for conventional orchestras, but are not skilled with conventional musical instruments.
(if I'm correct, Clive Bradley, though an outstanding conventional musician(keyboards etc.) , was no pannist).

Being a synthesizer, the E-pan also has the potential to create and add atmospheres and sounds to the traditional steelband , without affecting the appearance and aesthetics of the conventional steelband.

I can also see the e-pan adding weight to the steelband on the road, helping to make my dream come true, which is to see pan back on the road with POWER at carnival time.
(BTW, I still haven't figured out why with today's technology, entire steelbands cannot be amplified for the road, but that is another story.)

I think there is no reason why both instruments cannot coexist, as welcome additions to the world of the steelpan.

Much respect, and congratulations to those responsible for both innovations, the E-pan and the G-pan.
"Amazing invention" indeed,Salmon.

Another function that the E-pan can perform is as a reference for the tuner of conventional pans.

Since electronics doesn't go out of tune, I think it could make it easier for the tuner to "Blend" an entire band in a remote location, or even assist in the actual tuning of a pan.

We didn't know the many uses of the personal computer until we started using them. I remember my first computer back in the eighties, and its functions were very limited compared to computers today.

I predict that the same thing will occur with the E-pan.
Glenroy, you are correct in many ways. Rhapsody from Arima have fused the STEEL, BRASS and the P.H.I. for the Carnival 2K10, at The St. James We Beat and the Arima Borough. Rhapsody Rebirth, the New Generation have gone that way in the Evolution of Pan.

This Band had stated amplification of the Steel Band in 2005 and played in Carnival fetes getting the amplified sound through the D J's PA System. Up until then the success rate was 51%, there about. The reason being that the Bass was difficult to amplify. With the introduction of the P.H.I. (Percussive Harmonic Instrument) coming out of the Engineering Department of UWI, that Bass sound was achieved. The success rate is at 75%. The Band can play on a Big Truck'/Trailer and supply live music to as many people that need to be catered for. A mas' Band, a fete, whatever. Volume with clarity is available. The sound Engineer now has everything to work with. It's up to him to 'balance' the sound with respect to the amplified instrument and the Midi based.

Rhapsody is using the P.H.I. Pan for the G-Sound primarilly. At the same time Rhapsody has the option to introduce the Synthesizer to produce samples of original sounds in this fusion. Rhapsody can incorporate as many Midi Based P.H.I.s as required. Thanks to Professor Copeland, Maynard, Marcel Byron and the Team at the Engineering Department at UWI that this is possible now. We must also thank them for the Hard work they have done with the Genesis Pans. They are doing things in a more scientific manner, meeting international standards for obtaining patent status. Pan Trinbago should give more recognition to these gentlemen. They are FOR THE BETTERMENT OF OUR NATIONAL INSTRUMENT. We are the meca of Pan. Imagine the Fusion of the Traditional Pans, the G-Pan, the P.H.I.,Brass and vocals! That is the EVOLUTION OF PAN
Well Patrick, Pantrinbago should not honor thieves. Have you had the chance to read this post I made here on When Steel Talks, back on March 24, 2010? It is a discussion I had with Brian Copeland himself. Check it out. The link is http://whensteeltalks.ning.com/forum/topics/an-interview-with-steel.... If Brian Copeland was honest and gave credit where it is due, he could still have marked all the products he is trying to market at present and he would have been recognized as helping towards "the betterment of our national instrument", as you say, now the entire pan fraternity does not even what to see him (other than the people who closely surround him and were paid under the last PNM regime). This two part link will also help you:

PART 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDZGCTycb_4

PART 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ65rkE9GBQ&feature=related


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