Steelband soca in its purest form is soca at it best. The melodious sounds which emanate from the steelpan captivate the listening audience. The instrument has a long standing place in the Trinidadian culture and carnival. The instrument most times is associated with revelry and festivity. It brings to the listener an authentic Caribbean experience and those who come within distance to the hypnotic sounds are drawn into the experience of Caribbean music. Steelband soca is well worth listening to.
The sounds will linger in your mind and heart leaving you wanting more. The steel band is made up of several instruments and players and its origins date back to slavery. During this period of time drums were used as a form of communication among the enslaved Africans. When slavery was outlawed in 1783 by the then British colonial government African slaves were allowed to participate in the festive celebration Mardi gras which was brought to the island by the French. The playing of the drum was the most important event to the Africans and Indians during that period.
As time passed drums evolved into steel pans and bands, no longer were they being used in the war cry but in entertaining those who are willing to listen. The steel band in made up of several individuals who carry out specific roles these are, Soprano, Lead or Tenor, Double Tenor, Double Second, Double Guitar, Quadrophonic (four pans), Triple Guitar, Cello, Six Pan, Tenor Bass, Six Bass, Nine Bass and Twelve Bass. Each individual is responsible for a specific pitch. Steelbands are capable of playing all types of music however they specialize in soca and when a song of a different genre is played on a steel band you will immediately feel the soca vibe.
Since the invention of the steel pan there have been a number of notable groups these include Enid Mosier's Trinidad Steel Band and Russell Henderson's Steel band. The sound of steel band music is now being fused with other genres such as Jazz and reggae music. Hit songs include Carmelita, Bass Man, Brazilian love song, sweet'n breezy, mama's tune, ben wood dick, amazing grace (reggae), wedding march (tchaikovsky), medley mathilda/mary-ann and steel drums jam.
The steel band consists of one form of instrument this is the steel pan. This is made form a sheet of metal that is usually .8mm or 1.5 mm thick. Traditionally steel pans are made using oil barrels however steel pan bands are now using specific makers to manufacture the steel container to a specified resonance sound output.
The sheet of metal is stretched and with the aid of several hammers and air pressure it is shaped into a bowl formation, the process is known as sinking. Once this is completed the notes of varying sizes are molded and shaped into the surface.
After this is the crafts man or technician will tune the instrument using an electronic otherwise called strobe tuner. The influence of soca music including steel band soca is far reaching. Steelband soca is used as a welcoming form of music to tourists who visit the Caribbean island. It can often be heard on cruise ships and it is quite popular during the carnival season.