Monday, May 25, 2009

 

Steel Pan – Both a Musical Style and an Instrument

If you stop to think about it, it may be a bit extraordinary that a musical term would have two distinct meanings. Rather than suggesting a double entendre here, i.e., some second, implied or hidden meaning, what is being referred to is that of both a noun and an adjective. Steel Pan, perhaps somewhat uniquely, refers to both the Steel Drum instrument itself and the musical style in which the instrument is typically featured.

Steel Pan may have, as of late, become the more common term for the Steel Drum. Certainly, anyone familiar with the instrument would be well aware that it was initially fashioned out of a 55-gallon oil drum and became known, hence, as the "Steel Drum". Yet, when one refers to the “Steel Pan”, it is generally acknowledged that the musical instrument itself is being referenced.

On the other hand, if one suggests going to 'listen to' some Steel Pan music, it generally seems to imply a genre of music. The term denotes a decidedly Caribbean musical style, in which the Steel Drum is, of course, predominantly featured. Additional instrumentation, however, may also be commonly included as part of this “sound” or musical style, while the melodic or lead instrument would be notably that of the Steel Drum.

The band IRIE TIME features the Steel Drum sound as an integral part of their music. The bridge between the instrument and the musical style associated with the instrument is reflected in their every performance. It may additionally be stated that Soca-Calypso and Pan Steel have oftentimes become synonymous. The “(Are you feeling) Hot Hot Hot” Soca beat is the perfect rhythmic accompaniment for the instrument. Further, while we hear the Steel Drum played in a soothing style over slower beats, such as that of Reggae, the Soca-Calypso rhythm invokes the most direct connection to the Caribbean and, thus, the type of music typically being referenced.

Another variation in the terminology used in describing this music is to refer to the "Steel Band". This connotation suggests, perhaps, a number of Pan players being assembled and, in this context, the lead melody would be carried by the soprano or tenor Pan, or as a duet with a double second. However, what is more often the case in referencing the Steel Band is, in fact, again referring to a certain style of music, i.e. Caribbean music.

It is natural that the casual observer would refer to Caribbean music as Steel Pan, since the instrument was developed in, and is unique to, the Caribbean. Moreover, the Steel Drum flavors practically every variety of music coming out of the region, from its origins in Trinidad and across the Caribbean to Jimmy Buffett in Florida, as well as others. The Steel Drum invokes images of pure white sand on a palm tree lined beach with clear blue waters, and that is an experience many listeners of the genre seek. They're looking for a Caribbean music experience, and their term for that experience is Steel Pan.


The IRIE TIME band performs Caribbean Reggae and Soca music, and continues to release original music CDs with worldwide distribution. More information can be obtained at www.IRIETIME.com or by contacting them directly at 713-398-3798.

IRIE TIME is based out of Houston, Texas and commutes to locations throughout the United States by means of the city's two international airports, enabling the band to provide entertainment services to all 50 states, including the Texas cities of Abilene, Austin, Beaumont - Port Arthur, Bryan - College Station, Conroe, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Lubbock, Nacogdoches, San Marcos, and San Antonio, TX, as well as Louisana locations of Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, New Orleans and Shreveport, LA.

IRIE TIME also performs events internationally and has agency representatives in Europe, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America.

IRIE!

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