Maths Year 2000 Museum
    Steel Drum Maths Year 2000
Steel Drum
© Islington Artefact Library
Click Here for Interactive Exhibit The steel drum originates from the Caribbean island of Trinidad. They were originally made from oil drums, which were in abundance when the Americans left Trinidad after the Second World War. However, it was on a dented biscuit tin that someone first discovered that one could drum out a simple melody producing musical notes by striking different parts of the indentation. Different parts of the top of the drum, which is divided up, make certain notes when hit with a beater. The steel drum that sounds the highest is called a 'ping pong'. Below that is the 'guitar pan' and the 'cello pan' and the deepest drum is called the 'boom'. The positions of the different notes depends on the 'tuner' (the person who crafted the drum). Steel bands have up to 100 performers each playing two or three drums each.

To make a steel drum, the end of the drum's barrel is sunk by means of a sledgehammer to form a basin. The tuning pattern is then traced on to the sunken end and with a nail punch thousands of tiny impressions are hammered over the tracing. These hammered grooves insulate the tone of each section. The larger the dent on the drum, the lower the note. When the barrel has been cut to the correct depth each section is hammered up from below. The pan is heated over a fire and plunged into cold water to temper the steel. The maker then tunes the drum by tapping each section so producing the finished product.

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