What is a steelpan?

The steelpan or pan, is a musical instrument developed in the English speaking nations of the Caribbean. Countries like Guyana, Barbados and most popularly known for steelpan, Trinidad. The only new acoustic instrument developed in the 20th century the steelpan is handmade from a 55-gallon steel barrel, or steel drum. A series of hammers are used to pound the barrel into a bowl shape and tune the notes to pitch. Each instrument contains all notes (sharps and flats) and carries at least two octaves. The steelpan has a family of instruments ranging from the tenor or soprano down to the bass. All together the steelpan family is known as a steel band. The steelpan stems from people of African descent with European heritage or influence. The versatility of the instrument is unmatched and depending on the player, can perform anything from Mary had a Little Lamb to Moonlight Sonata. Although the Caribbean is known for genres of music like calypso and reggae, most steelpan players and steel bands perform other genres like classical, pop and jazz.

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