Friday, August 02, 2013

Barbados Steel Band

Rather disappointing steel band from Barbados. Was attracted by the sleeve and the 50p price tag.  A weird mixture of calypso, classics and folk songs which all sound very similar after a while.

"Steel band music originated in Trinidad & Tobago in the 1930s and spread to the rest of the Caribbean, becoming one of the sounds most associated with island music in the minds of many visitors to the region. Originally, bamboo tubes of varying sizes had been used as percussion instruments to accompany vocal songs -- mostly because of restrictions on genuine drums, designed by the white government to curtail the annual Carnival celebrations among the Afro-Caribbean and Indian (true Indian, not native American) population. Metal objects, however, produced much louder, livelier accompaniment, and so industrial leftovers -- various types of pans, containers, and drums (in the "barrel" sense of the word) -- became the new instruments of choice. Players learned that different pitches could be drawn from some of the containers, and eventually how to tune the instruments with slight modifications. By the 1940s, steel pan players were crafting instruments that could sound over a dozen pitches. Around 1946-47, steel bands discovered that discarded oil drums -- which were more sturdily constructed -- could be used to fashion excellent instruments, and by the time the '50s rolled around, steel drums made from oil containers boasted different pitches covering full chromatic octaves, plus standard concert-pitch tuning. Technical innovations and refinements continued through the rest of the decade, with ensembles trying to outdo one another at the annual Carnivals. The repertoire of steel bands grew to include not only calypso melodies, but the various styles of music broadcast on the radio -- American jazz, showtunes, and ballroom-dancing music, Latin-American dances, traditional Indian music, and European classical. When college-educated Trinidad & Tobago youth picked up on steel band music in the '50s, it achieved a new respectability among the middle and upper classes, and has remained an important part of the country's -- and the Caribbean's -- musical scene right up to the present day, even if soca has long since eclipsed steel band music in popularity."

Barbados Steel Band  -  Side One

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