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Mother's Day Special
Sweet Soca Man
May 13th, 2012
Liberty Heights Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland
More Information, including ticket info. call in Baltimore: 410-362-2957 Or Derrick-New
EVENT TAKING PLACE THIS SATURDAY - MAY 5, 2012
DC, - Washington DC
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
50 Years of Independence in
with Passport D.C.
are cordially invited to Celebrate with us!
out and experience our vibrant culture, cuisine and artwork, and awaken
your senses with:
A Tassa Band
Embassy of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Massachusetts Avenue NW
Dupont Circle, Farragut West
further details visit: www.culturaltourismdc.org
Cultural Tourism DC's Around the World
event is planned for all to enjoy!
stated above the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago "The
Steel-Pan" will be featured; as well as other musical instruments
and various characters depicting T & T. Additionally, many of
our delectable cuisines will be featured throughout the day.
So that you have a greater understand of why the National instrument is
one of Trinidad and Tobago's greatest prides, below is a little history
on the steel pan. You will also find more details on the Tassa
Steel Drum, or "Pan"
The drums were developed on the Caribbean island
during the early years of the 20th century. Old rubbish tins,
car parts and stolen garbage can lids formed the first "Iron
Bands", which led to the realization that a dented section of a
barrel head could produce a musical tone. Careful refinement of
this amazing discovery produced the modern Steel Drum instrument and
the large orchestral Steel Drum Bands, a deserved source of great
Earlier on the island of Trinidad, during
British Colonial rule in the late 1800's, hand drums were used as a
call for neighborhood gangs to collect and 'mash up' with the other
gangs. Hoping to curb the violence, the government outlawed
hand drums in 1886. This led eventually to the invention of
the Steel Drum!
After the hand drums were outlawed, the Trini
musicians began forming bands called Tamboo
Bamboo. Each member of the group would carry a length of
bamboo and pound it on the ground as they paraded through the
streets, producing distinctive rhythmic signatures which identified
each neighborhood. (The
word "Tamboo" is from the French "tambeau", or
When two bands from rival neighborhoods met
on a march, they would often stop playing and attack each other,
sometimes using the bamboo instruments themselves!
Soon, the government outlawed the bamboo bands
as well. With no drums, the musicians of the local
neighborhoods tapped & drummed on whatever they could find,
including milk cans, paint buckets, old car parts, and eventually
empty oil barrels (from the US Navy bases on the island).
Using their makeshift instruments, the
neighborhood bands reformed and marched down the streets playing the
same distinctive rhythms as before. These musical rhythm
sections came to be called the "Iron Band", and you can
still hear them working away in the "engine room" of the
One day in the late 1930's, after a
particularly rough Iron Band session, a musical youth was fixing his
and discovered that the dented part made an interesting tone.
He experimented all night, and by the next day the young musician
had hammered four different tones into his metal pan! The boy
whose name was Winston
"Spree" Simon is generally credited with being the
first person to put a musical note on a steel drum.
Originally the pans were convex, like a dome
rather than a dish. Ellie
Mannette, another youth in the panyards of the 1930's, was the
first to dish out a pan and give the steel drum its mature form.
Many tuners began experimenting with producing tuned
"pans", eventually forming large groups of pan players
into orchestrated bands.
The musical competitions which began to take
place each year at Carnival
quickly replaced the street fights. In 1963, the first
official Panorama Steel Band Championship was held as part of the
island's Independence celebration.
There are two main contests at Panorama, one
for the best arrangement of a popular song, and another one which
showcases each band performing a fully orchestrated classical piece.
More than a half century after the first contest was held, the
rivalries between neighborhood steel bands still exist, but instead
of fighting they battle with excellent musicianship!
The Tassa drumming tradition was brought to
Trinidad by indentured laborers from India
between 1845 and 1917, recounts Jeffrey Ross Thomas in “Forty
Years of Steel: An Annotated Discography of Steel Band and Pan
Tassa drumming also flourished in Tobago and
Guyana. The instruments used by the traditional tassa ensemble in
Guyana are the bass or “boom” drum; two or more high-pitched,
bowl-shaped earthenware kettle drums, the “tassa drums”; and “jhanjh,”
a pair of large metal cymbals, according to “The Garland
Encyclopedia of World Music: South Asia: The Indian Subcontinent.”
According to Thomas "Tassa drums" can be made of either
clay, plastic or metal. The bass drum can be carved from the trunk
of a mango, silk cotton or cedar tree and has two heads of thick
mule hide. The left head is beat with the hand and the right head
with a cloth-wrapped mallet. The two tassa drums are covered with
goatskin membrane and played with flexible sticks made of pessy
vine, mamoo liana or bamboo that have balled, hardened flour tips
wrapped with tape or cloth.
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