Sunday, June 10, 2007
Dents That Produce a Melodic Sound
In 1884, there was a British ban on African drumming (which is very reminiscent of the US ban on Native American chants and dances mentioned in an earlier post). Trinidad's response to this clampdown was to incorporate tamboo bamboo bands into their carnival processions. "The tamboo bamboo ensemble consists of varying lengths and widths of bamboo, which are stamped on the ground in an interlocking fashion similar to West African drumming (Blake 2000)."
Once the 1930s rolled around, the steel drum (or steel pan) became the primary instrument used in these processions (Walbourn 1999). Originally, buckets and pails were used for this purpose but around the time of the Second World War, these instruments were crafted out of 50-gallon oil barrels that had been abandoned by the US Naval Base in Trinidad. The instruments were used primarily for their percussive effects (in similar fashion to the tamboo bamboo) but were later used in an attempt to emphasize melody.
There is an annual competition in Trinidad every year where bands from all over the Caribbean pit their skills against one another in an attempt to win the prize of being declared the best performers of this musical style. The history of steel pan recordings stems from this annual event. It's very likely that Mighty Turbines were a band competing in this contest and were touting this record in an attempt to market themselves at the live stadium performance.
Capture a sample of their wares here.