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Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

I hesitate to an ‘ism’ to the end of my post title as I am not sure if that is exactly the category a certain phenomenon I have recently uncovered falls under.

As some of you know, about 6 months ago I wrote an article about how I with my wife brought Pan to Poland, and how it is developing (sometimes through struggle). The feedback was almost all positive and encouraging and then around December we spread a little through the Pan world on Facebook with a film of our rendition of various Star Wars themes for the Premiere of ‘Force Awakens’ played at a local Polish cinema (falling just shy of 30,000 views). The film went from one side of the globe to the other and also, the comments were mostly positive, if not coloured a little with an element I had yet to come upon in our Pan adventure.

Comments like: ‘Do these kids even know where Pan comes from?’ and one especially one caught my attention (from a Trinidadian): ‘The day will come, and I would rather not live to see it, but will come never the less, where the white kid will out-play the black kid on a Steel Pan’. The fact that all our players are: a. Young and b. White comes completely from the fact that quite simply, Polish society is still predominantly white, and even if it weren’t, I am of the personal belief that the colour of our skin is in no way a factor when determining the musical talent or potential of an individual – especially a youngster who at that stage of life has the whole world before him/her and can accomplish absolutely anything they want with the right motivation and mind-set. These were not the only two comments in reference to race or education – but the more questionable comments ranged somewhere between those two factors. I to this day do not necessarily feel ‘hated’ upon or anything like that – and I am not sure of the motivation (positive or negative) behind these comments.

I can only assure all Trinidadians that we have the utmost respect for your culture and the amazing invention that is Pan, and our kids DO know where the instruments come from – they can even probably point to Trinidad on the map (possibly more than most Trinidadians could point out Poland on the map). With much love and respect we ask to be accepted as part (albeit a tiny part) of the pan community and would encourage everyone not to judge a musical form based on the colour of our skin.

Thanks for reading and God bless.

Adam Mold - Poland

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Music is a universal language...

Here in South Africa, with it's extremely divided past (and present, unfortunately), we have a steelband tradition dating back to 1970 when the 1st set of pans arrived in the Eastern Cape Province. This extraordinary instrument has had an enormous influence in bringing our various communities together in a spirit of sharing, healing, respect and celebration. Pan is thriving as an antidote to gansterism, substance abuse and the other social ills affecting many of our youth.

No-one can ever take pan away from its origins, and all Trinidadians should be very proud of its reach and influence throughout the world. You have given the world a wonderful gift. please accept our heartfelt respect and gratitude and let pannists of all backgrounds just play on!

Trinidadians are PARANOID that WHITE PEOPLE will TEEF the PAN from them. So the reactions you are getting are PAR for the course. If I go to a concert to see a famous PIANIST or TRUMPETER they never come on the stage and tell me where the PIANO or TRUMPET came from before they start their performance.

TRINIDADIANS DEMAND THAT you tell the audience that the PAN CAME FROM TRINIDAD.

Pan came from Trinidad!! But what's the use, we don't know what to do with it since it's inception. One thing I do know is that we make mas with it, we make bachanal with it, we make confusion with it, some people make money with it,  but really, we don't really know what to do with it.

Like the doggie and the bone, we vex when "other" people take it to higher heights. But is we own though, and we still don't know what the hell to do with it.

Play Poles play, Play Finns play, Play Japanese play. Play de pan, man.

Record some good PAN MUSIC POLES!!! Record some good PAN MUSIC FINNS!!! Record some good PAN MUSIC JAPANESE!!! Get some WORLDWIDE AIRPLAY and SELL A MILLION RECORDS!!!

Recording Pan is a VERY hard thing to do. For us to get air time, we have to be registered in Zaiks and pay royalties for any cover we do (lets face it, it'll be popular when people recognise it). Not many people are willing to put time, money and effort into something like that, but we are now considering it. Let's hope something omes from all this hard work people all over the world are doing!

I think what you all do with it is wonderful! I love following Panorama (though I would never afford to be able to come and see it for myself). My 8 year old son lives for Panorama music and dreams of playing with the Renegades and Silver Stars one day. But music over here is a whole different kettle of fish, and the instrument has such a wonderful range of possibilities that there can b quite literally be anything done with it by anyone. That is it's beauty.

Hi Adam,

Thanks for your thoughtful letter, I truly appreciate it.  It is a complex thing this creation of race as a means to divide. And Trinidad has gifted the world of humans an instrument and an orchestra with which to bridge that divide and so dissolve the centuries of destruction caused by the application of skin color and "race" to human relations.  I understand the concern of those Trinidadians and respect their ability to voice it. Looking at what has happened to Jazz and the other musical forms created by African Americans, I must confess I have had the same 'fears' of appropriation some time in the future. So I am happy to hear that you do teach about our culture and give respect to our contribution to the musical world. I just looked at the performance of Pan in A minor and offer my congratulations to you and your students. It has confirmed my thought that steel pan is the means to produce collaboration among peoples, male female young old etc. I watch the joy on the players faces, and how they are dancing and laughing and having fun together, and I am hopeful that the divisions of the past and present generations, race, class,gender,age, and so on are being bridged so that a more united and unified human society might emerge. I hope that sometime in the future we will not worry about divisions but live together in the  joy playing pan produces.

Thanks for uplifting my today.

Hello Adam

We're still growing up, I think. However, its more complex than that, driven, inter alia,  by the painful early history of the pan, the general sentiments of a peoples downtrodden over centuries and the consequent strongly embedded need to be recognized. When something as powerful as the pan comes up through that cauldron, there will always be a subgroup (diminishing ) who object when "outsiders" become involved.   Its also pretty bad for an academic who ventures into the community. My suggestion is to not let these occurrences dissuade you from making your contribution to the growth of pan; the instrument was fashioned out of  a love of music and fun.

Mighty Sparrow - Outcast

 

David Rudder - Dedication...

We lament the lack of global/international recognition of Steelpan (music and instrument). When we do get it however, there is always this STUPID segment of Afro Trinis that only see " a non Black people stealing our invention". How f***king ASSININE you get? 

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