Steel Drums

Bring an Awesome Caribbean Sound Home with Steel Drums

Steel Drums, also known as Steel Pans, have an amazing melodic sound with 8 or more notes. Originally made in Trinidad from hand-tuned 55-gallon oil barrels, steel drums have evolved into a well-loved musical instrument throughout the world. From models designed for children to those designed for professionals, eBay lists a wide variety in a range of prices.

How do you play the steel drum?

Panning is a skill that can be started with only a few recommendations. For your comfort and to produce great music, follow the steps listed below:

  • Step 1: Set the height of the pan at waist level so you dont need to bend over.
  • Step 2: Tilt the pan slightly with the lowest portion toward you.
  • Step 3: Stand directly in front to the instrument with 4 to 5 inches between you and the pan.
  • Step 4: Keep your elbows at about waist level.
  • Step 5: Keep your hands near the surface for speed and accuracy.
Are steel pans suitable musical instruments for children?

Steel pans, or steel drums, are wonderful instruments for even young children. Producing at least one octave (8 notes) of a musical scale, the childs pan makes it simple to play basic songs with little training. Many children enjoy just hitting the notes to hear the beautiful resonance produced. Advancements in a young persons skill come with learning how hard to hit the notes and how to read music. Playing can continue to be developed and enjoyed for a lifetime.

Note layout on the Steel Drum

Part of the wonder of panning involves the way in which the note layout works. Each note on a tenor pan is set next to those that harmonize with it in what is called a "circle of fifths." Basically, this means that on a keyboard, move five keys to the left of any key and you arrive at a key that harmonizes beautifully with the one you moved from. On a steel drum, C is located at the 6:00 position and its harmonizing notes F and G are on either side. Every note on the steel drum is surrounded by its musical compliments in this way. This ingenious design was created by Trinidadian Anthony Williams in 1953 and became the standard. Tenor pans are the most commonly used pans because they produce the melody in music.

How do you choose the right steel drum?

How you plan to use the drum is the primary deciding factor for your choice. For a young child, a great choice is a drum designed for kids. These have clearly marked notes and are often portable. For an older child or an adult, a more advanced instrument is more appropriate. eBay listings offer many different new and used styles ranging from small drums with eight notes to professional drums with nearly 30 notes available. The notes on larger drums are the 12 notes available on a keyboard and repetitive notes from lower octaves. You will likely also find vintage souvenir drums, which are often colorfully patterned and also produce beautiful music.