Desperadoes – Musical Conquerors by Edison Holder

Musical Conquerors takes its reader on a chronological journey of the history of Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, noting several critical events and paying homage to key personalities, such as Lennard “Spike Jones” Edwards, Carl Greenidge, Clive Bradley, Rudolph “The Hammer” Charles, Roy Cape, Pat Bishop, Raymond “Artie” Shaw, Robert Greenidge, David Davis, Ursula Tudor, Dennis “Tash” Ash, (and) Carlton “Zanda” Alexander just to name a few. The book details the history of the orchestra from its origins in the 1930s, early successes, triumphs and trials all the way through to 2020. To tell its story it uses images, newspaper clippings and stories.

Steelpan in Education by Andrew R. Martin, Ray Funk, Jeannine Remy 

Founded by Al O’Connor in 1973, the steelband program at Northern Illinois University was the first of its kind in the United States. Thanks to the talent and dedication of O’Connor, Cliff Alexis, Liam Teague, Yuko Asada, and a plethora of NIU students and staff members, the program has flourished into one of the most important in the world. This fascinating history of the NIU Steelband traces the evolution of the program and engages with broader issues relating to the development of steelband and world music ensembles in the American university system. In addition to investigating its past, Steelpan in Education looks to the future of the NIU Steelband, exploring how it attracts and trains new generations of elite musicians who continue to push the boundaries of the steelpan. This study will appeal to musicians, music educators, ethnomusicologists, and fans of the NIU Steelband.

Steelpan Ambassadors: The US Naby Steel Band, 1957-1999 by Andrew R. Martin

“Maybe you won’t like steel band. It’s possible. But it’s been said that the Pied Piper had a steel band helping him on his famous visit to Hamelin.” When the US Navy distributed this press release, anxieties and tensions of the impending Cold War felt palpable. As President Eisenhower cast his gaze towards Russia, the American people cast their ears to the Atlantic South, infatuated with the international currents of Caribbean music. Today, steelbands have become a global phenomenon; yet, in 1957 the exotic sound and the unique image of the US Navy Steel Band was one-of-a-kind. Could calypso doom rock ‘n’ roll? Band founder Admiral Daniel V. Gallery thought so and envisioned his steelband knocking “rock ‘n’ roll and Elvis Presley into the ash can.”

From 1957 until their disbandment in 1999, the US Navy Steel Band performed over 20,000 concerts worldwide. In 1973, the band officially moved headquarters from Puerto Rico to New Orleans and found the city and annual Mardi Gras tradition an apt musical and cultural fit. The band brought a significant piece of Caribbean artistic capital–calypso and steelband music–to the American mainstream. Its impact on the growth and development of steelpan music in America is enormous.

Steelpan Ambassadors uncovers the lost history of the US Navy Steel Band and provides an in-depth study of its role in the development of the US military’s public relations, its promotion of goodwill, its recruitment efforts after the Korean and Vietnam Wars, its musical and technological innovations, and its percussive propulsion of the American fascination with Latin and Caribbean music over the past century.

The Story of Pan Am North Stars by Cyril S. Matthew

From Tin Pan to TASPO by Kim Johnson

From its first appearance in 1939 with a group of men knocking on pots and pans to the 1951 Trinidad All-Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO), steelband has fascinated the world. Relying largely on oral histories, this work investigates and documents the different technical, musical and organisational steps by which the steelband movement was born and grew to maturity. This study is a radical break with the approach to cultural creativity in general and music of the African diaspora in particular, emphasising the role of individual agency, microsociology and aesthetic values. This contrasts with the “resistance” school of thought, which views music as an automatic reaction to oppression rather than a deliberate attempt to satisfy aesthetic needs and impulses. The minute biographical and psychological details provide a unique theory of creolisation and chart its relationship to African retentions, based on empirical data.

The Illustrated Story of Pan by Kim Johnson

The Illustrated Story of Pan is a thing of spectacular beauty, the crown jewel in a Carnival music lover’s catalogue of visual literature. In this remarkable, necessary tome, it is the photographs – from the rare, to the previously unseen, to the iconic – that guide the arc of the narrative, and never before have you been so eager to be led by images for the sake of art and cultural history.

As Kim Johnson himself remarks, in a Caribbean Beat feature (March/April 2011), “It began with a single photograph”. Speaking on the hundreds of photos he painstakingly curated, Johnson said, “Every photograph had been lovingly preserved for decades, which spoke of their importance to their owners, and as such every owner had stories surrounding each photo, stories of adventure and discovery, of love and danger.”

The Illustrated Story of Pan is, like the best type of books tend to be, many things in one: cultural artefact; photographic panorama (pun probably intended!); labour of love, storybook for the ages. In the tradition of the best books, too, it must be beheld, and absorbed, to be believed. All roads to essential Carnival reading and viewing should lead here, to work of this calibre and sentiment.

400 Questions & Answers On Pan 1960 to Present compiled by Ian R. Franklin

Which steel orchestra that has won Panorama in every decade to date? Which is the only steel orchestra that is credited with a band of the year title? Which steel orchestra is credited for the wheeling of panstands? Who was the most successful Panorama arranger in the 1960’s? Name the first steel orchestra that toured an African country, and much more! If you grew up in a time where the steelpan was forbidden, here is your chance to gain knowledge quickly and become more knowledgeable about this culture.

Desperadoes – Rudolph Charles Era and Beyond by Ian R. Franklin

Date, time and places, as can only be presented by someone who has first hand knowledge of the band, and those behind the scenes, making it all possible.

Panorama Finals 1963 to Present by Ian R. Franklin

Do you love the sound of 100 players doing their thing in the big yard? Have you wondered years later who won and who also ran? Then this book is for you!

Winners of Various Pan Competitions 1952 to Present by Ian R. Franklin

A staggering array of different competitions from Panorama and Pan Is Beautiful Classical about 32 pages and a learning experience for everyone.

Crossword Puzzles of Trinidad & Tobago by Ian Franklin

The culture of TrinBago is alive and interactive in this book. 22 brain teasers, created in a fun, and friendly format! Questions such as, the original name of Woodford Square, and the winner of 1968 Road March are included.

Sterling Betancourt’s biography written by Bel Kais

From his childhood in the hills of Laventille, the most deprived and violent neighbourhood of Port of Spain, Trinidad and the birthplace of the steel band, Sterling Betancourt is, from an early age, immersed in a musical environment. His inclination for the steel pan, will eventually and against all odds, take him to England and France in 1951 after having been chosen amongst Trinidad’s twelve most promising steel band players. We follow the tribulations of a young and impressionable man from an island to 1950′ s London, trying to establish his talent as a steel drum player, his mixing with the famous jazz musicians of the era in the Soho clubs, where music was the link between a mixed crowd of aristocrats, movie stars, pimps and prostitutes, who joyfully intermingled, and where nightlife prevailed over any form of reality. His important role in pioneering steel band all over the world and contributing in staging the biggest European street event.

Steel Drums and Steelbands: A History by Angela Smith

Steel Drums and Steelbands: A History is a vivid account of the events that led to the “accidental” invention of the steel drum: the only acoustic musical instrument invented in the 20th century. Angela Smith walks readers through the evolution of the steel drum from an object of scorn and tool of violence to one of the most studied, performed, and appreciated musical instruments today. Smith explores the development of the modern steelband, from its roots in African slavery in early Trinidad to the vast array of experiments in technological innovation and to the current explosion of steelbands in American schools. The book offers insights directly from major contributors of the steelband movement with sections devoted exclusively to pioneers and innovators.

Drawing on seven years of research, repeated trips to the birthplace of the steel drum, Trinidad, and interviews with steelband pioneers, Smith takes readers far beyond the sunny associations of the steel drum with island vacations, cruise ships, and multiple encores of “Yellow Bird.” Digging deep into Trinidad’s history—a tale of indigenous extermination and African slavery, of French settlement and Spanish and British colonialism before mid-century independence—Smith weaves an unforgettable narrative of talking drums, kalinda stick fights, tamboo bamboo bands, iron bands, calypso, Carnival, and the U. S. military. Together, all played major roles in the evolution of today’s steelband and in the panman’s journey from renegade to hero in the steelband’s move from the panyards of Trinidad’s poorest neighborhoods to the world’s most prestigious concert halls. The reader will discover how an instrument created by teenage boys, descendants of African slaves, became a world musical phenomena. Steel Drums and Steelbands is the ideal introduction to the steel drum, steelbands, and their history.

Music from behind the Bridge by Shannon Dudley

Steelband Spirit and Politics in Trinidad and Tobago. The first detailed account of the musical thinking behind the steelband’s transformation. Includes dozens of interviews with steelband pioneers and contemporary players and arrangers. Challenges conventional notions of nationalism by underscoring the way musical thinking and popular culture compete with and shape elite ideology, and contribute to the experiences of national community. Argues for the value and significance of music that is participatory, in contrast to music that is experienced as a presentation (E.g. removed from the public on a stage).

Carnival Music in Trinidad: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture by Shannon Dudley

Carnival Music in Trinidad is one of several case-study volumes that can be used along with Thinking Musically, the core book in the Global Music Series. Thinking Musically incorporates music from many diverse cultures and establishes the framework for exploring the practice of music around the world. It sets the stage for an array of case-study volumes, each of which focuses on a single area of the world. Each case study uses the contemporary musical situation as a point of departure, covering historical information and traditions as they relate to the present. Visit for a list of case studies in the Global Music Series. The website also includes instructional materials to accompany each study.
Home to the most elaborate Carnival celebration in the Caribbean, Trinidad is the birthplace of the steelband and a hub for calypso and soca, musical genres that have been influential throughout the world. Collectively, these and other performance genres constitute the dynamic event of Carnival, which for more than a century has been an occasion for an intense exchange of ideas about society, culture, and tradition in Trinidad.
Carnival Music in Trinidad examines the history and aesthetics of calypso, steelband, soca, and other genres, relating musical structure, lyrics, sound, and style to the major roles they play in Trinidadian culture. It also analyzes how the instruments, sounds, and lyrics of Carnival music provide a sense of national and ethnic identity. Author Shannon Dudley describes calypso’s traditional role as a voice for the common people, acknowledging the tensions between this history and calypso’s ties to modern commercial music markets. He also presents the story of the steelband–an art form born in the most downtrodden neighborhoods of Port of Spain–as both a parable of the nation’s struggles and successes and as a continuous process of musical exploration. Written in a lively style accessible to both students and general readers, Carnival Music in Trinidad features vivid eyewitness accounts and illustrations of performances. The book is packaged with a 40-minute CD containing examples of the music discussed in the text.

Carnival, Calypso and Steel Pan: A Bibliographic Guide to Popular Music of the English-Speaking Caribbean and its Diaspora by John Gray

Calypso Calaloo: Early Carnival Music in Trinidad by Donald R. Hill

“Mathilda, she take me money and run Venezuela”, may sound familiar, but how about “From a scandal and hideous bacchanal/Today we got a glorious carnival”, or “anywhere you go you must meet people sad/They search for employment, none can be had”. Classic calypso, one of the greatest creations of Caribbean culture, is more than the frivolous music played for tourists in pink hotels overlooking tropical beaches. Much traditional calypso is also social commentary and has reflected, sometimes not so subtly, Trinidad’s difficult social and political evolution. This book is about the people who made calypso, the topical music of Trinidad’s Carnival, and about the society that spawned it. Hill follows calypso from its 18th-century origins in Carnival street music to Carnival tents and later to the club circuit and recording sessions in the United States and Britain, up to the moment in the 1950s when the great pioneer calypsonians – The Growling Tiger, Lord Invader, The Roaring Lion, Attila the Hun, and the rest of the first generation – had finally passed into what one of its members called “the atmosphere”. The participants’ opinion of the development of their art comprises a large part of the book. Reading about music is not the same as listening to it, so a compact disk accompanies this book. Hill has collected a sampling of the history of Calypso on record, and the result is a collector’s dream – a compilation of largely rare tracks from the Smithsonian, other archives and commercial studios. Hill has illustrated his book with 61 photographs of calypsonians and the paraphernelia of recorded music, and with transcriptions of the lyrics of over 30 of the most important calypso songs, a glossary of calypso terms and an annotated discography of calypso recordings. This overview of the development of calypso should appeal to students of the Caribbean and ethnomusicology, to folklorists and record collectors and to anyone who has hummed along with “Brown-skin Girl” or “Mary Ann” (“Down by the seaside sifting sand”).

The Trinidad & Tobago Steel Pan by Felix I. R. Blake

History and Evolution of the Steelpan. The book is dedicated to the men and women of the pan fraternity – wherever in the world they might be. What is the nature of this fascination? What were the circumstances that led to the invention and development of this unique instrument ? Pan is the product of communities that were on the fringe of mainstream society. It is not surprising that early records are fragmentary and flimsy. Also, the accounts that have come down to us present competing versions of the original invention and how it first saw the light of day. However, oral accounts from surviving steelband pioneers and enthusiasts, together with surveys of the little that has been written, suggest to us that the invention and early development of the steel pan should be seen not as the outcome of a stroke of genius of a single individual, but as the product of socially marginalised communities that were groping for self-expression. Many are the individuals who in one way or another have contributed to the evolution of today’s steel pan. A look into the history, the ethnic and cultural background and the socio-economic pressures which dominated Trinidad and Tobago in the 1930’s, will help us to better understand the importance of this unique musical expression to the people who created it. The steel pan, as a vehicle of social identity and self-esteem alone, is a fascinating subject of study, and by now an important factor in the shaping of the recent history of this twin island state.

The Steelband Movement – The Forging of a National Art in Trinidad and Tobago by Stephen Stuempfle

The Steelband Movement examines the dramatic transformation of pan from a Carnival street music into a national art and symbol in Trinidad and Tobago. By focusing on pan as a cultural process, Stephen Stuempfle demonstrates how the struggles and achievements of the steelband movement parallel the problems and successes of building a nation.

Stuempfle explores the history of the steelband from its emergence around 1940 as an assemblage of diverse metal containers to today’s immense orchestra of high-precision instruments with bell-like tones. Drawing on interviews with different generations of pan musicians (including the earliest), a wide array of archival material, and field observations, the author traces the growth of the movement in the context of the grass-roots uprisings of the 1930s and 1940s, the American presence in Trinidad in World War II, the nationalist movement of the postwar period, the aftermath of independence from Britain in 1962, the Black Power protests and the oil boom of the 1970s, and the recession of recent years.

The Steelband Movement suggests that the history of pan has involved a series of negotiations between different ethnic groups, socioeconomic classes, and social organizations, all of which have attempted to define and use the music according to their own values and interests. This drama provides a window into the ways in which Trinidadians have constructed various visions of a national identity.

Renegades: The Story of the BP Renegades Steel Orchestra by Kim Johnson

The steel pan is not only the great success story of modern acoustic musical instruments, but also the sound of the Caribbean. All over the world steel pan resonates at carnivals, bringing the sound of the Caribbean to a wider audience. This is the story of pan, through one of its famous Trinidadian orchestras, showing their development from youth street gangs rooted in conflict to large, and peaceful orchestras.

Invaders Steel Orchestra: The History of a legendary Trinidad Steelband by Jeannine Remy & Ray Funk

Some 25 years in the making, ideas for compiling a history of Invaders began as a seed of necessity and as a wanting long challenge to a young foreign female pannist whom, as a visiting music student from the US, first played tenor with Invaders for TT Panorama 1989. In her long walk through the corridors of music academia, following her newly found hobby, mainly focused on that unusual TT cultural heritage of percussive and musical ‘pan’, Jeannine Remy learnt part of her calling through direct tutelage from both Ellie and Vernon Mannette, the much revered and celebrated panmakers for Invaders. She would rise through the ranks to eventually take Invaders to the finals of the TT local and World Music Festivals, as arranger and conductor, on many occasions.

Now resident in Trinidad, and as Lecturer of Music at the University of The West Indies, St. Augustine campus; Dr. Remy has shared her collected research archive of Invaders, much supplied by past and present members of the band, with the indomitable TT cultural historian Ray Funk. Through their collaborative efforts, this long awaited, compelling and excitingly illustrated 75 year history of one of Trinidad’s oldest surviving steelbands, from Oval Boys to Invaders, will now be on the table to enlighten us.

The Gerald Forsyth Story by Michael La Rose and Lionel McCalman

The lifetime journey of a pan legend in the steelband movement.

The Steel Drums of Kim Loy Wong by Pete Seeger

An instructional manual to accompany the Folkways Records FI-8367 and FS-3834 and the movie “Music from oil drums”.

Voices from the Hills: Despers & Laventille by Ancil Neil

History of the steelband, a musical art form and its influence on poverty and violence in a community.

Forty Years of Steel by Jeffrey Thomas

The annotated discography of steel band and pan recordings, 1951 – 1991.

Panriga (1st edition 1999) by Kenrick P. Thomas

Tacarigua’s contribution to the evolution of the steelband phenomenon in Trinidad and Tobago.

Panriga (2nd edition 2014) by Kenrick P. Thomas

Kenrick P Thomas’ literary account of Tacarigua’s role in the development of steelpan music might have annexed neighbouring Tunapuna and Curepe territory, but it provides a fruitful opportunity for readers to journey into the inner dynamics of a world of music, religious practice and politics in one of the more vibrant pre and post-independence Trinidad communities.

Tacarigua’s Contribution to the Evolution of the Steelband Phenomenon in T&T is the long-winded title of the publication, which looks at what Thomas insists are the contributions of a “country district” to the development of the instrument.

Governing Sound – The Cultural Politics of Trinidad’s Carnival Music by Jocelyne Guilbault

Calypso music is an integral part of Trinidad’s national identity. When, for instance, Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the great Trinidadian musician Roaring Lion where he was from, Lion famously replied “the land of calypso.” But in a nation as diverse as Trinidad, why is it that calypso has emerged as the emblematic music?

In Governing Sound, Jocelyne Guilbault examines the conditions that have enabled calypso to be valorized, contested, and targeted as a field of cultural politics in Trinidad. The prominence of calypso, Guilbault argues, is uniquely enmeshed in projects of governing and in competing imaginations of nation, race, and diaspora. During the colonial regime, the period of national independence, and recent decades of neoliberal transformation, calypso and its musical offshoots have enabled new cultural formations while simultaneously excluding specific social expressions, political articulations, and artistic traditions. Drawing on over a decade of ethnographic work, Guilbault maps the musical journeys of Trinidad’s most prominent musicians and arrangers and explains the distinct ways their musical sensibilities became audibly entangled with modes of governing, audience demands, and market incentives.

Generously illustrated and complete with an accompanying CD, Governing Sound constitutes the most comprehensive study to date of Trinidad’s carnival musics.

Ring of Steel – Pan Sound and Symbol by Cy Grant

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of the only acoustic musical instrument to be invented in the 20th century, the steel drum of Trinidad and Tobago.

Pan (the common name of the steel band) is closely linked to the world famous Trinidad carnival and calypso. Twenty eight calypsos, as well as poems and other literature on pan are quoted in the book.

The story of pan is a mythic one, in the sense that Joseph Campbell used it in “The Power of Myth” – a story imbued with meaning, a story of our times. For Campbell, mythology was the song of the Universe – the Music of the Spheres; which is the title of the final chapter in the book.

It is said that as Pythagoras, the 6th Century Greek philosopher was walking past a brazier’s shop he heard hammers beating out a piece of iron.. This led him to discover the harmonic or overtone series. The sounds Pythagoras heard have resonated down the centuries. Today Trinidadians refer to playing pan as beating iron.

The transmutation of industrial waste material, i.e discarded oil drums, into a highly tuned percussion instrument which today resonates around the world, is nothing if not an alchemical process. Alchemy involves a base metallic material, the outward form of which has to be first destroyed, the energy released and reunited. Then heat is applied, blackening the substance, something known as nigredo. Alchemy if properly understood means that whenever something important evolves, everything around it evolves as well – in this case the society itself. Hated at first, the steelpan is now the national instrument of Trinidad.

The book traces not only the physical development of the steelpan, the plight of the early pioneers and their struggle for survival and acceptance, the social function of the pan yard and the rivalry between the bands manifest in the annual Panorama competition but also the spirit and pan-world spread of Pan.

The Emancipation by Earl Lovelace

Jouvay tradition and the almost loss of pan.

Steelbands & Reggae by Paul Farmer

Longman Music Topics.

The Steelband: From Bamboo to Pan by Terry Noel

Commonwealth Institute.

Calypso and Other Music of Trinidad, 1912-1962 an Annotated Discography by Craig Martin Gibbs

Calypso, with its diverse cultural heritage, was the most significant Caribbean musical form from World War I to Trinidad and Tobago Independence in 1962. Though wildly popular in mid-1950s America, Calypso–along with other music from “the island of the hummingbird”–has been largely neglected or forgotten. This first-ever discography of the first 50 years of Trinidadian music includes all the major artists, as well as many obscure performers. Chronological entries for 78 rpm recordings give bibliographical references, periodicals, websites and the recording locations. Rare field recordings are cataloged for the first time, including East Indian and Muslim community performances and Shango and Voodoo rites. Appendices give 10-inch LP (78 rpm), 12-inch LP (33 1/3 rpm), extended play (ep) and 7-inch single (45) listings. Non-commercial field recordings, radio broadcasts and initially unissued sessions also are listed. The influence of Trinidadian music on film, and the “Calypso craze” are discussed. Audio sources are provided. Indexes list individual artists and groups,