Tuning drum things - Music from Junk?


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Steel Drum Band

By tuning drum and idiophone instruments, you can get a percussion-based orchestra. See, for instance, the Steel Drum Pans of Calgary.

You may know of the timpani, a tunable drum used in modern symphonies. Now you can find out about steel drums. Like the ones used by Calysto SteelBand, one of the most peculiar Calgary bands of yore.

How to make steel drum pans

A musical steel drum is a portion of an industrial steel drum, an oil barrel. The container is modified by an intense process to retain

characteristics such as absolute tuning and tonal sustain.

This gives performers the ability to play the resulting instruments in harmony with each other.

The tuning process provides a very unique and percussive sound.

Some individual pans produce well over twenty different distinct notes.

Overall, the different components of the orchestra give a range of about five octaves when combined. You get full bass, midrange and treble capabilities.

How are they constructed? For a more technical description, read here.

You can hear various musical textures created by advanced striking and strumming techniques. A solid rhythm section comprised of a drum set and several Caribbean music and Latin percussion players backs up the orchestra. They add rhythmic elements and delicious tuning drum effects.

Tuning Drum


This gives a band the ability to play all over the musical map:

  • rock,
  • reggae,
  • calypso,
  • soca, and
  • Latin styles.
When combined with expert musical arranging provided by Ann Jamieson and others, this variety from Calysto resulted in a full musical palate to enrich the experience of any listener, casual or expert. You often hear the music of steelbands in films and television shows.

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You like steel drum band music? Have you ever seen one of these bands live? It's a lot of fun. See one if you get a chance.

Let us know if you did see a steelband, and if you enjoyed it.

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