Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 9th 2017 Contents B12 life
guardian.co.tt Thursday, February 9, 2017
Dr Aurelie Helmlinger is working
on the Pan-e-pedia project.
To learn more about the Pan-e-Pedia project and
see how you can be involved, contact Dr Aure-
lie Helmlinger at email@example.com.
To learn more about Rachel Hayward's work, see this
link: http://steelpan.co.uk/ and for a link to her new album
Red Head, see http://cdbaby.com/cd/rachelhayward3
• From Page B12
Hayward discussed steelpan layouts in the UK,
their relation to important steelpan pioneers such
as Russell Henderson and Sterling Bettancourt and
their evolution over the decades in this part of Eu-
rope. According to Hayward, "The conference was
an excellent launch for Dr Helmlinger's fascinating
research project which provides a wealth of infor-
mation previously undocumented in the field of pan
studies." Hayward further noted that Helmlinger's
work on steelpan layouts "provided an excellent op-
portunity for fruitful exchange of ideas across the
pan and academic communities."
Hayward's recent doctoral dissertation focused
on the pop American song Yellow Bird based on a
Haitian folk song and the strange way it became the
most performed and recorded song by steelbands
in the sixties. It is a stunning piece of research and
an important contribution to our understanding of
In addition to her research, Hayward is an accom-
plished pan player and is a sought-after performer,
arranger, and clinician, and she has recently released
a new album titled Red Heat of original music and
Co-author Dr Andrew Martin gave a paper on the
evolution of pan instruments in the United States.
Over the course of the past 60 years, steelbands
across the United States have grappled with the ec-
lectic nature of steelpan's note layouts and many have
devised inventive ways to handle the instrument's
inconsistencies. Others prefer specific note layout
patterns as a means of teaching and learning music
theory and harmony. Martin's research examined a
brief history of steelpan note layouts in the United
States with specific focus on certain layout examples
that are preferred by American-based steelbands, and
the music literacy and harmonic pedagogies that these
steelpans support. Several theories were discussed
towards explaining preferences of American pannists
who, before learning steelpan, had previously received
traditional western music education.
Perhaps the most informative presentation at the
recent conference in Paris was that of Professor Akira
Tomita of Hirosaki University in Japan. Interesting-
ly, Tomita is professor of instrument building---not
steelpan or percussion per say---and in addition to
the steelpan he is an accomplished performer and
builder of several traditional Japanese instruments.
Tomita's presentation detailed the history of steel-
pan in Japan and the instrument's rise in popularity
during the first half of the 1990s.
Tomita notes that before the 1990s, Trinidadian
steelbands first visited Japan for occasions such as
Expo 1970 in Osaka and Expo 1975 in Okinawa. This
was due in part to efforts by the Japanese govern-
ment who tried to establish international prestige by
hosting cultural events that "Displayed the World".
Several key professional musicians, such as Haruomi
Hosono, took steelpan for their artistic creation as a
form of self-orientalism/self-exoticism.
In the 1970s-80s, the timbre of steelpan was dif-
fused by electric organs with the name of "steeldrum"
in music unrelated to its origins. According to Tomita,
"Japanese people do not necessarily care too much
about Carnival or steelpan culture, they mostly like
steelpan as an instrument." Then things changed in
the 1990s when several steelbands from Trinidad,
such as Renegades and Pamberi, toured Japan numer-
ous times and record stores started to sell imported
steelpan recordings. At present, there are more than
20 steelbands, approximately 1,000 steelpan players,
and five steelpan builders currently active in Japan.
The conference acted as the first step to take Helm-
linger's research in T&T to a wider focus. Helmlinger
seeks assistance from Trinidadians and pannists all
over the world to help add layouts and information to
the database. "This is only a beginning," notes Helm-
linger who wants the project to incorporate steelpan
layouts all over the world. "From this data, anyone
from anywhere in the world can find a pan, discover
the maker, his village or town in Trinidad or wherever,
and can then have a better appreciation of where pans
come from and who makes them."
DR ANDREW MARTIN is an ethnomusicologist,
percussionist, pannist, and Professor of Music at
Inver Hills College in St Paul, Minnesota. Retired
Researchers focus on pan's
'eclectic nature of note layout'
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INVITATION TO TENDER No. 02/2017
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