The Steelpan: A Sound of Trinidad and Tobago

In preparation for the release of our fall title Drummer Boy of John John, we wanted to share the sounds of the Caribbean with our readers. Drummer Boy of John John tells the story of young Winston and his dream to have a band at Carnival so he can win the prize of free rotis from the Roti King. Using metal objects found in a junkyard and ingenuity, Winston discovers a new type of sound and creates a band of his own!

According to legend, Winston “Spree” Simon invented the steelpan in Trinidad and Tobago in the 1930s. The steelpan is a percussion instrument played with rubber-tipped sticks and is the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago.  To get an idea of what steelpans sounds like, we’ve compiled a few performance clips. Have a listen:

1. A band plays “Stand By Me” at the Flatbush Frolic, a free community street fair, in Brooklyn, NY:


2. The Mangrove Band plays during the 2011 Notting Hill Carnival in London, UK:


3. And here’s one from our very own Hamilton Hill Steel Drum Band, the group profiled in our book Steel Drumming at the Apollo:


We hope you enjoy these festive sounds!

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