When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

LeRoy Clarke speaks with reknown music Masters at the opening of the Trinidad Tobago SteelPan and Jazz Festival in October 2007. Filmed in the National Museum in Port-of-Spain. Background photo exhibit, curated by Dr. Gloria Gordon, documents steelband history. Appreciation to Ainsley Mark and the QRC Foundation. Contact kagetter@yahoo.com or 917 364 5648. Keith Getter Associates, Inc. copyright 2010 all rights reserved.

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Comment by Ian Franklin on July 23, 2010 at 7:34pm
No debate from me, but as I wrote in my book, "400 Q&A on Pan From 1960 to Present",
"Tradition is merited sometimes, but we have to know when innovation is the way. The next debate will be,
we should not say Steel Orchestra, we should say Steel Band Band. Lets not dialogue in semantics.
Love, Peace and Pan
Comment by Barbara on March 15, 2010 at 3:11am
This is quite an enlightening conversation. Essentially, LeRoy Clarke touches on an important aspect of the spirituality of pan. To gain greater understanding and deeper appreciation of the steelpan, its African origins must be carefully and respectfully examined. Thanks Keith for shedding the light.
Comment by the pan cafe on March 14, 2010 at 2:41pm
I love this..
Glenroy and ODW say it all.
Great shout..
V
Comment by odw on March 14, 2010 at 2:23pm
Here's a link where Leroy Clarke adds to the history of the instrument in a Panorama setting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyrO7zLyYSI
Comment by Glenroy R Joseph on March 14, 2010 at 12:37pm
I love this discussion. Anyone who have been around as long as these guys ( and I have) know exactly what they are talking about.

They are not speaking about the technique of putting the stick to the steel - how much pressure is applied to each note, etc.

They are speaking about the almost spiritual nature of creating pan music, as it ties into our African heritage in the beating of the drum.

I like the term "beating pan", just as I like saying "Tenor Pan". Both these terms may not be technically correct, but they belong to the steel pan, and are deeply rooted in its history.

The intellectuals among us have tried to discredit this original pan terminology, thinking it may make pan more acceptable to traditional musicans.

There is no need to do this, and fortunately they have failed.
Comment by odw on March 14, 2010 at 12:14pm
James,

This has been a problem for a very long time, there are people who play the instrument and don’t know anything about its history, what Leroy Clarke is saying is what needs to be understood, the steel drum started out as a voice of a struggling people in the drumming traditions of our ancestors, it’s our history. Ellie Mannette and others refer to the instrument as the steel drum and people still don’t get it.

I would agree with you that there are two schools of thought that exist here, there are musicians who play the instrument and see it in the context you express, but to understand the genesis of the steel drum as the elders spoke about is to understand the obeah and the call to the spirits which started out as a voice of a people that became an art form.
Comment by Lee on March 14, 2010 at 12:00pm
One ting for sure, pan is only the instrument, and it's played from the heart.
Comment by James Martinez on March 14, 2010 at 9:24am
It seems there are two schools of thought about the way a pan ought to be "played." While "beating" the pan has its place i.e. at Panorama competition and on the road, at carnival time etc, in my humble view,anyone who truly loves this instrument should "play" it as such and never "beat" it as it were. Play the instrument, like you love it. "Beating" the pan as such, is so played out in this brave new century.

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