Brief History on the Steel Pan
During the 1800s, the inhabitants of Trinidad had been participating in a street carnival brought to the Caribbean island by the French. When the freed slaves (West Indian) slaves joined the festivities, they could not afford the conventional instruments, so they used African drums, the instruments of their ancestors, and then created percussion bands made up of bamboo joints cut from the plant. The “Tamboo Bamboo” bands were rhythmic ensembles that provided the accompaniment for the masquerades in the annual parade.
After attending our lecture on British Abolitionism in at the University of West Indies; we got the opportunity to learn more about the musical culture of the Caribbean. We received a private lesson on the steel pan drum; in addition to learning how to play the instrument we were also taught how to read music. We were taught a popular folk song called “Tamboulay.” In the beginning, it was a challenge at first to learn how to play the music and melodies of the folk music, but eventually as a group we learned how to play the song.