Dance Workshops by Shaka Zulu
Afro-Caribbean Dance with Raechele Lovell
Drumming Workshops & Circles
The drum is a global instrument. It’s universality is enjoyed through a multitude of forms by many cultures.
The drum is Africa’s first communication tool; it invites community expression, connection and movement.
In North America, the drum has survived attempts to ban it because it was a great companion during slavery years. When slave owners banned the use of the drum, people used various parts of their bodies, boxes, tin cans, buckets, pipes and anything they could get sound from.
Our local drumming community is growing as more residents experience the healing power of the drum. Participate in any of our drumming workshops starting on August 7th and the drumming circles in the park on August 26 & 27th.
Drum circles gives equality to all participants. It incorporates all ages, all levels of experience and any percussion instrument. Its one goal is to share their rhythmical voices en masse and emerge as one unified voice.
Drumming Workshops by Gerima Harvey Fletcher
Here you’ll find local Steelbands
Coordinated by Carol Taylor of Acoustic Steel
Besides listening and dancing to the music, you can get a sample lesson.
By Anandi Carroll-Woolery
Published in LINK Newsmagazine Volume 3 Issue 3
You have five seconds to answer this – where was the steelband invented? Bzzzt.
Time’s up. Did you say Trinidad & Tobago? You’re wrong! According to the U.S. Patent Office, the steelband was invented in Wilmington, Delaware by two Americans,
George Whitmyre and Harvey J. Price.
That’s if we go by the book. Any red, white & black blooded Trinbagonian will be quick to educate you on the true origins of the only musical instrument invented in the 20th Century.
It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. In pre-independent Trinidad & Tobago, former slaves and their descendents used drums, like their African forefathers to communicate. The government of the day, banned drumming, so musicians then turned to “tambu-bamboo” bands as a substitute. These instruments were hand made from the abundant and versatile bamboo – by cutting the stems to different lengths, the musician
could obtain different, albeit, limited tones. The government banned these instruments as well, citing that the “bands” were really gangs.
By the end of World War II, steelpans, made from 55 gallon oil drums were appearing in Port-of-Spain. Winston “Spree” Simon is often credited as the inventor of the pan, but truly it was the combined efforts of many innovators that have made the pan what it is today. Like the tambu-bamboo, the oil drums are cut to different lengths to obtain the desired range. Different pans, such as the tenor, alto, guitar, cello and bass mimic the different voices of a choir or instruments of an orchestra. Any song can be arranged for the pan whether it be calypso, classical or pop. The effect on an audience is equally wide-ranging – the music infects you and can make you “wine” (a hip focused dance) laugh, cry or feel a deep serenity.
In July 2007, the first Genesis or “G” Pan was launched by a team of musicians and engineers led by Dr. Brian Copeland, head of the electrical and comp-ter engineering department at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. The new tenor pan is 4″ larger than the current 26″ tenor pan (the lead pan that carries the melody) and has a range of 37 notes over 4 octaves, an improvement over the traditional tenor pan which has a range of 29 notes over two and a half octaves. Two more G-pans, in the works, will replace the current mid-range pans (seconds, double-tenor, guitar and cello) and the bass pans.
This team has wisely applied for a patent for the new pan to secure intellectual (and bragging) rights. As for Whitmyre and Price? Their pan making company no longer operates.
E-pan steelpan by Salmon Cupid
Newest pan is the E-pan by Salmon Cupid
Source: LINK Newsmagazine Volume 4 Issue 4
Pan Tuner Gerard ClarkeOn July 24, 2009, steelpan tuner, Gerard Clarke, passed though our area
to tune steelpans for Kitchener’s two steelbands and LINK’s steelpan class pans. We now have our fi rst three pans, two of which were donated by Tommy Crichlow from Toronto and the third by Clyde Dookie of Panwaves Steelband in Cambridge.
Gerard Clarke has been tuning pans for 27 years. As a player, he started with grapefruit tins and milk tins before he moved to small steelpans and eventually to bigger pans. When his milk tins didn’t give him the notes he wanted, he tried to fix them, but dissatisfaction caused him to buy his first steelpan for $15 in 1965.
He tried to fix that too and destroyed it. Consequently he took a break from trying
to tune pans and continued to focus on playing and doing some arranging.
Steelpan-tuner1Then in 1982 he decided to try to tune pans again and approached his friend Herman Guppy, an experienced pan maker and tuner, to teach him. He spent fi ve years with this mentor learning how to prepare the pan, how to make notes, shape notes, how much heat it needs to get and how to get the fi ne points of bringing in the notes. It took another two years to perfect the skill to where he could make pans good enough to sell. Over the years, he has made and shipped pans to England, Iran, France, Switzerland, America, Canada, Brazil, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica and Germany.
Gerard Clarke tunes a pan 8 years ago, after 33 years in a managerial position with Unilever of Trinidad, he took the opportunity for early retirement to pursue his steelpan passion on a full-time basis. His career now takes him to various Caribbean islands, Canada, America, France and England. He has been coming to Canada for the past 17 years, only in the summer.
“I came once in the winter and told people not to bring me back [during winter],” he said.
“I was an arranger, but gave that up for tuning. Because the arranging meant a lot of research and time and I really wanted to focus on tuning. I never stop learning; it’s always a work in process.” Tools of the steelpan tuning trade include a strobe, a meter, four different sizes of hammers, various sticks and a prizer or jack to push the notes up.
StrobeAbout tuning, he said “This is not a theory. Some people damage their pans trying to tune them.” When they see where you hit a particular note, they believe that they can do the same thing when the note goes off. But this only damages the note as well as the neighbouring notes.”
After playing for 40 years (1964-2005) in Starlift Steelband in Trinidad, Clarke now plays with Retro Starlift, a band of retired pan players who made all the tours in the 70s and 80s. Clarke has two sons who attend high school and university in Canada.
He returns to Trinidad and Tobago on August 12.
This is where the African Musical Diaspora links up: music, dance, drumming steelpan, solo artists and bands. Also, the Top Male and Female Revelers and Top Mas Family are judged and awarded a trophy.
Visit our Artists page for details about this year’s artists.