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Mas N Steel Ensemble Musical Style Report - Percussion Band

Updated on October 27, 2011

Mas N Steel Ensemble

Mas N Steel is a Trinidadian-Style steelband that contains percussion instruments called “pans”. This type of musical style originated in Trinidad and Tobago, where pans are the national instrument. Pans are made from 55 gallon steel drums and in-turn are part of the idiophone family. The steel “pan” is hit with sticks that have a rubber tip on the end.

A few pan musicians are known for using four pan-sticks at once, two in each hand. This particular style is believed to have come from early 20th century carnival groups called Tamboo Bamboo. Through the exodus of Haiti to Trinidad, the modern steelpan evolved from a communication device to an instrument. The African slaves used drumming as a form of communication and also performed during celebrations. India and Africa were the two countries that influenced the drumming traditions the most. The first instruments of the steelpan family developed were called Tamboo Bamboos because they were tunable bamboo sticks. These Tamboo Bamboos were hit against the ground in sequence to produce a unique sound. By the 1930’s the musicians started using metal percussion instruments such as the steelpan, and all-steel bands became the more popular form of entertainment, especially at carnivals. Modern steelpans are chromatic. Chromatic scales have twelve pitches about a half-step apart.

Florida State University's Mas N' Steel Band


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