Steel Drums and Steelbands: A History

Steel Drums and Steelbands: A History

by Angela Smith


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Steel Drums and Steelbands: A History is a vivid account of the events that led to the “accidental” invention of the steel drum: the only acoustic musical instrument invented in the 20th century. Angela Smith walks readers through the evolution of the steel drum from an object of scorn and tool of violence to one of the most studied, performed, and appreciated musical instruments today. Smith explores the development of the modern steelband, from its roots in African slavery in early Trinidad to the vast array of experiments in technological innovation and to the current explosion of steelbands in American schools. The book offers insights directly from major contributors of the steelband movement with sections devoted exclusively to pioneers and innovators.

Drawing on seven years of research, repeated trips to the birthplace of the steel drum, Trinidad, and interviews with steelband pioneers, Smith takes readers far beyond the sunny associations of the steel drum with island vacations, cruise ships, and multiple encores of “Yellow Bird.” Digging deep into Trinidad’s history—a tale of indigenous extermination and African slavery, of French settlement and Spanish and British colonialism before mid-century independence—Smith weaves an unforgettable narrative of talking drums, kalinda stick fights, tamboo bamboo bands, iron bands, calypso, Carnival, and the U. S. military. Together, all played major roles in the evolution of today’s steelband and in the panman’s journey from renegade to hero in the steelband’s move from the panyards of Trinidad’s poorest neighborhoods to the world’s most prestigious concert halls. The reader will discover how an instrument created by teenage boys, descendants of African slaves, became a world musical phenomena. Steel Drums and Steelbands is the ideal introduction to the steel drum, steelbands, and their history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810883420
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 06/07/2012
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Angela Smith is a freelance writer/editor and Executive Director Emeritus of the Writers' League of Texas. She is also a working musician, dividing her time between playing cello and the steel drum.

Table of Contents

Preface: Why I Wrote This Book ix

Acknowledgments xi

Permissions xiii

Introduction xv

Part I Trinidad

Chapter 1 A Bit of Early History 3

Chapter 2 Transformation 8

Chapter 3 The Africans and Their Drums 14

Chapter 4 Creative Tension 19

Chapter 5 Freedom Fights 24

Chapter 6 Tamboo Bamboo 29

Chapter 7 Bamboo to Steel 35

Chapter 8 War Years 41

Chapter 9 Pan Rising 48

Chapter 10 Renegades 56

Chapter 11 Turnaround 63

Chapter 12 Heroes of the Nation 69

Chapter 13 Pan Fever 75

Chapter 14 Pan on the Move 85

Part II Expansion

Chapter 15 Pan Comes to the United States 97

Chapter 16 The U.S. Navy Steel Band 108

Chapter 17 Pan Goes to School 115

Chapter 18 First American of Pan: Andy Narell 134

Chapter 19 More History in Progress 140

Chapter 20 Symphony on the Street 146

Appendix 1 Pan Pioneers 155

Appendix 2 Pan Innovators 167

Appendix 3 Chapter Timelines 177

Appendix 4 Questions and Topics for Group Discussion 183

Appendix 5 Selected Discography and Internet Links 188

Appendix 6 Instruments in the Steelband Family 191

Bibliography 193

Index 197

Contributors 207

About the Author 209

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