10 Things to Consider Before Commissioning a Composer for Steelpan

Written by Mike Schwebke

With so much crossover and experimentation in music these days, it should be no surprise that there are plenty of composers looking to try their hand in bringing steelpan into their compositions and arrangements. The only catch is that many of those composers are unfamiliar with the nuances of the instrument. If they’re not careful, they can fall into common faux pas for novice pan composers that may stall their efforts before they can even put a note on the page.

Not to worry. Here are some tips to help you get them back on track.

1. Many composers won’t know the history of the steelpan

I feel that it’s crucial that new contributors to the repertoire be aware of the social unrest around early steelpan and to be aware that classical music (most notably the TASPO performances) has been a part of the steelpan identity since inception. Learning more about the history of the instrument will prevent misunderstanding from the pan community at large and allow a larger audience to enjoy the composition.

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