Steel pans: The sounds of Notting Hill Carnival

UK – Over the last few weeks, I’ve been talking to different people that make up the components of Notting Hill Carnival, the biggest street party in Europe.

You can have all the sound systems, mas bands and costumes, but if your parade doesn’t have the sound of wood hitting metal to a fine tune then something is missing in your recipe.

Because steel pans are a foundation and fundamental part of carnival culture. Originating in Trinidad and Tobago, these steel containers turned into musical instruments still have their place in the modern carnival.

In reality, they have their place in modern music. Last year there was quite a few hit songs with the “ping pi ding ping” sound. Just listen to Kodak Black’s club smash Zeze for proof.

It was the “go-to” sound for many producers outside of the genre. Someone who has made his life’s work of this metal drum and has received an MBE for his efforts is Pepe Francis.

At 76 years young, he’s been part of steel pan for over 50 years and still has a hunger and drive for the art form.

Read more