STEELPAN INTO THE 21st CENTURY
First an introduction of myself.My name is Stokely Taylor,born in San Fernando,Trinidad and Tobago, I am a Trinidadian living in Sweden for the past 50 years. At bottom I have spent all these years as a musician and cultural worker. Amongst one of my musical achievments is the introduction of steelband music into the Swedish music culture, forming the first steelband in Sweden in the 1970's, a band that performed both on Swedish and Danish Television at that time.
The idea for this project came to me after reading of the increased youth gang violence in Malmö (and for the whole of Sweden for that matter). This situation made me reflect back to when I was a youth in Trinidad in the 1950's. We had in Trinidad the very same problems of youth violence.
Then came to the rescue the Steel-pan bands. As i reflect I remembered forming a youth club for both boys and girls with a steelband as the main drawing power, the club progressed with the progress of the band's perfection.
I even looked for a sponsor for the band. Coca-Cola Company became our sponsor supplying us with pans, painting them, supplying transport to the jobs we had, and in the general maintaining of the orchestra.
Youths then instead of going out in violent groups stayed in the "pan-yards" (as the training facilities are called in Trinidad) and practised in an attempt to be the best band.
Let me give a short description of a steelband. For a small band, let us say 15 men, they would be playing together, "symphony orchestra style". The difference with the steelband being a tighter togetherness; it is like 15 guys seated at a piano playing a piece of music together.
You can well imagine the chaos, if what everyone has to do is not clearly defined and remembered. So you can see a strict discipline and a sense of togetherness is of paramount importance in a steel-band.
Now in Trinidad the steelband has risen to such a height of perfection in its 71 year development that it is almost unbelievable.
At Carnival time you have steelbands performing with 150 men or more, playing in huge musical competitions. (The bands become that large at carival times because members of the general public join their favorite bands because then power is needed).
They join to learn one competition "piece". And here these general public members must be skillful, fast, and have a high retainance capacity or else drop out. That strict is the disciplin. People have tried for years to be able to play with their favorite band.
In Trinidad there are steelband music arrangers, steelpan tuners (the instrument must be tuned to be able to be played together with ordinary musical intsruments) and finally there is the Trinidad and Tobago Steelband Association with whom I hope to be working with in launching this youth development project.
This is a truly multi-cultural communal project and should be taken seriously. In Trinidad, which is a cosmopolitan society, you have youth of all ethnic backgrounds playing steelpans together in perfect harmony both within and without.
Youth beat pan not a man!
Anthony Williams when considering the placement of notes on a 55-gallon oil drum came up with the same arrangement as the famous Greek mathematician Pythagoras.
The arrangement he says came to him in a dream.