Steelpans or steel drums are a type of musical instrument that originates from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. The modern pan is made from large industrial drums, hence its other name steel drums. Despite this, the instrument is not actually a drum, as it doesn't have a membrane. The pan element itself is struck with rubber-tipped sticks to produce sounds. Steel pans can be various sizes and some have many more notes than others. Some pans will feature up to 30 different notes and some have only three or four. Notes that are lower on the musical scale require a larger surface area, so they tend to feature on pans with fewer notes.
During the second world war, the US Navy arrived in Trinidad and steelpan music became popular with the soldiers stationed there. This helped to expand the instrument's international reach and boost its popularity. Later, a steel band orchestra attended the Festival of Britain in 1951, further expanding the instrument's reach. American pianist Liberace toured with a steel band and the instrument featured in some of his music.
The notes of a pan are created and tuned using hammers. The term for someone who plays a steel pan is called a 'pannist.' Pannists can either play one instrument or sometimes they play multiple pans at one time. Pannists usually don't read a musical score and often have to memorise the songs that they play. Steel bands play a variety of music and often cover well known pieces, including classical compositions. The steel pan regularly features in popular music. The 2016 single "Close" by Nick Jonas, prominently features the steelpan.
Experience the steelpan in less than one minute, anywhere, anytime. You can use your computer, tablet or even mobile device.
Anyone can play the steelpan through Virtual Piano. You don’t need to be able to read music or to have played the steelpan before. Virtual Piano music sheets contain letters that correspond to the keys from a QWERTY keyboard. So it’s quick and simple to pick up. You can enjoy playing the steelpan instantly - anywhere, anytime.