The Steelpan Instrument
Information & News about the Steelpan.
"National Instrument Of Trinidad & Tobago"
Layout of the Steelpan Notes
「STEELPAN OR STEELDRUM?」
Many people are still confused or wondering "What is really the name of this instrument!?"
I think it's time that this matter is cleared up. Everyone should know that the respectful name of
the instrument is Steelpan or Pan ( as it called locally in its birthland )and not Steeldrum.
(Steel-Pan is the name given by the inventors of this instrument. Steelpan was even once called
"ping pong" in the very early stages of its birth)
Everything that we use in this world today are made from some kind of material or other. whether
it's the clothes you wear, CD, a car, or instruments you play. We use "steeldrums" to manufacture
and produce the instrument call " steelpan". Because of the manufacturing process and changes
it goes through, this beauitiful hand-crafted instrument can no longer be considered to be a (normal)
steeldrum....It has now become a highly finished and refined musical instrument.
Let's look at the "Guitar". The main material use to make a Guitar is "wood" but we don't call it a
"wood" after it's all finished - it's now an instrument. So we call it a Guitar because that's what
it has become.
Some of you may have notice the word "steeldrum" written on this site. You would have also
notice that it's in parenthesis i.e: (steeldrum). Many people are not familiar with the word
"Steelpan" or haven't the slightest idea about the respectful (correct) name of the instrument.
So in order to educate people I have found it necessary to use both Steelpan and (steeldrum)
when writing about the instrument. I am sure this would not be necessary in the future as people
are catching on pretty quickly.
Written by Tony Guppy (August/2008)
The Lead Steelpan
There are many type of steelpans but the
lead steel-pan is one of the most widely used of all
steelpans, it carries the range of the soprano.
This steelpan traditionally carries the melody in
a steelband or steel-orchestra.
The lead steel-pan ( known as the "Tenor pan" )
was designed by " Steel pan pioneer " Anthony
Williams and was modified by Herman Johnson.
The notes are arranged in a circle of perfect
fourths and fifths intervals.
The preceding steelpan design, which is also
Williams's had the notes arranged like a spider
web as seen in the photo below.
The Spider Web steelpan
The notes radiated from the center in the style of a spider's web
Brief information about the steelpan
I guess by now you probably know that (Pan) the steelpan
( The National Instrument of Trinidad & Tobago ) is the only new
acoustic musical instrument to be invented and accepted world -
wide in the 20th century.
The Steelpan (Pan) (often referred to as Steeldrums), is a
percussion instrument made from a 55 gallon drum.
This musical instrument was invented in Trinidad & Tobago
during the 1930s in the period around the time of the 2nd world
1938 - 1939 are considered by many to be the "birth" years
of the steelpan. If you compare the steelpan to other musical
instruments like the piano, violin, trumpet and flute etc. which
has been around for many centuries, the steelpan is a very modern
The people of Trinidad and Tobago are proud to say we have
given the world a musical gift, a truly beautiful instrument...
"The Steel pan instrument".
Old Photo of a steelband (Invaders Steel-Orhestra)playing with
pans hung around around their neck.
For more info about the Steelpan history, invention and early
(origins of the steelpan instrument), please visit :