Bermuda Steelpan Music
The local choral traditions which created a distinctive Bermudian music style in 1960’s, is the mixer of Calypso and Steelpan Music. Steelpans (also known as steeldrums, pans, or collectively as a steelband) is a musical instrument. The Steelpan music originated in Trinidad and Tobago.
It is the only acoustic musical instrument invented in the 20th century and is a pitched percussion instrument, tuned chromatically, and made from a 55 gallon drum, the type that stores oil. It was introduced to Bermuda in 1950s mainly by the Esso Steel Band
became popular for selection of Western classical music for the steelpan. Today the steelpan is fairly popular in Bermuda. Although the sound of the steelpan drum is often associated with Calypso music
, it also goes as a popular accompaniment to the Classical, Jazz, Latin, Pop, Reggae and many other musical genres.
So, What was the idea behind creating the Steelpan music? To celebrate the Allied victory in Bermuda, Trinidadians picked up sticks and old oil barrels to make noise in the streets. From that noise, somebody heard music in the beating of the oil barrels. And the idea for the steel pan music was formed. Over the years through growing use of the pans in music, Steel pans became a bona fide instrument in 20th century.
Steelpan music remains very popular to the churches and schools in Bermuda and many other islands in the Caribbean. In 2008, The Bermuda School of Music
has established a Steel Pan Orchestra that has been training students from various schools in Bermuda. The orchestra has performed in many community events. Today students from nine different schools come here after the school hours on Wednesdays and Fridays to learn and practice this originally Caribbean instrument and keep the tradition alive in Bermuda.
Update June 2015: You can now see live Steel Pan Music every Saturday (between June 6 and October 31) at Queen Elizabeth Park in Hamilton starting at 12noon. This will be followed by Gombey Dance performance. Admission is free.
1) Check out Bermuda Music and Dance
to know about music and dances that are now part of the island's cultural tradition.
Visitors' Reviews & Comments
Diane Wigignton (June 2014)
Raj, do you have any current recommendations on where to see Steel bands? Years (decades) ago, we used to go to the Clay House Inn but I know it's been closed for a while now.
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) June 2014
There are hardly any regular Steel Band performers these days. Yes, many years back the Coca Cola Steel Band used to perform at Clay House Inn on north shore and the Esso Steel Bands used to make rounds at the hotels. You can now sometimes find steel bands playing at Queen Elizabeth Park (erstwhile Par la Ville park) at Hamilton during noon time on Wednesdays, and also on Front Street during Harbor Night Festivals on Wednesdays.