The Steelpan Timeline
“Tamboo Bamboo” bands originate. After Emancipation former begin participating in the street carnival brought to our island by the French. The Tamboo Bamboo is a percussion instrument made of lengths of bamboo plant to accompany revelers during street parade. “Tamboo Bamboo” bands continue to flourish throughout the 1920’s and 30’s.
World War II ends
A young man from Port of Spain named Winston “Spree” Simon tunes a steel pan so that it can be played on an eight-note scale the “Ping Pong”. News of Spree’s discovery spreads through the country. This begins a cascade of experimentation with the drums across the nation.
Ellie Mannette, the first person to use a discarded oil barrel to build a steel pan. The first sets of Steel bands are formed throughout Trinidad and Tobago. The bands include: Destination Tokyo, Casablanca, Rising Sun, Invaders, Tripoli, Bar 20, Red Army and Desperadoes.
“The Jouvert Bomb Competition” – This event is a steelpan music staple on Carnival Monday morning staged at Victoria Square, Port of Spain. It features steelbands playing rapid transitions from one melody to another. Bands parade around the Red House playing various “Bomb” tunes. This refers to the common term “a big tune”.
Trinidad represents at the Festival of Britain at the South Bank Exhibition.
Trinidad Music Festival introduces a Steelpan category. This festival “caused improvement in making and tuning the pans, improvement in arranging and orchestration, improvement in playing the pans, and improvement in the appearance of the instruments.” says Anthony Williams. Due to the increased number of participants and the quality of music and pan-manship displayed, a separate show was imminent.
Anthony Williams takes steelpan experimentation to another level by designing a tenor pan known as the “fourths and fifths”. His achievement is considered to be the most innovative to date. This design is the general design of the steelpan.
Following Trinidad and Tobago’s Independence, steelbands are now hired to perform at social and state functions. Corporate sponsorship is now an option, as this assists in the maintenance of bands.
The Carnival Development Committee develops Trinidad Panorama, a local competition for various steelbands. Panorama is a well-known annual music competition in the country held during the Carnival season.
Introduction of the National Junior Panorama competition, it specifically targets Secondary schools. It is considered a training forum for the adult Panorama competition and for the steelband movement in general.
Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan & Jazz Festival formerly “Pan Royale” is held annually in November. It is a charitable event hosted by The Queen’s Royal College Foundation to aid students, staff and alumni of the Queen’s Royal College (QRC).
Introduction of the festival Pan Ramajay, by the local group Exodus Steel Orchestra. “Ramajay” is the local term for term for “showing off”. The event showcases various genres inclusive of classical to jazz. Other interesting elements are competitive and playful interaction between performers and displays of technical virtuosity.
Ellie Mannette unveils “The Quaduet” a four piece instrument. This four piece instrument whose wide range permits pan soloists to play music without running out of notes. These pans are hung like a four cello and a single pair of specially designed sticks is used to play all the high and low notes.
Bertie Marshall receives two awards at the World Steelband Festival 2000, “For Innovation and Contribution in Respect of the Steel Drum”
The formation of the Chinese Bicentennial Steel Ensemble, as part of the festivities to mark the Chinese 200 years of arrival to the Trinidad and Tobago. The band comprises of players solely with Chinese heritage.
The creation of the Genesis Pans “G-Pans”, unlike the metal drums of the past, G-pans are made from highly durable high-grade steel sheets. They are considerably smaller than traditional pan instruments and comprise of a bass pan, a mid-range four pan, a double pan and a lead pan. It can produce well-defined pitches at louder volumes than regular bass pans.
Bertie Marshall passes away on Wednesday 17th October, 2012 at the age of 76. Bertie Marshall was the creator of the Double Tenor Steelpan.