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Technology giant “Google” celebrates the steelpan instrument via Google Doodle | Pro Club Bd

Global – On Tuesday 26th July 2022, Trinidad and Tobago’s steelpan instrument will be featured and celebrated on the website of technology giant “Google” via the famous Google “Doodle”. The “doodle” is essentially an illustrative change to the Google corporate logo “to celebrate holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists” – and more. The doodle will then be seen by users around the world accessing the Google homepage that day and will be available in the Doodle archives thereafter. The July 26th date is one of the most important in steel band history; it commemorates the performance of TASPO (Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra) at the Summer Festival of Britain seventy-one years ago in 1951 on this day.

Trinidad and Tobago-based artist Nicholas Huggins is the creator of the illustrative artwork in the Doodle, while Etienne Charles is the composer of the accompanying music, performed by legendary steelpan icon Len “Boogsie” Sharpe. The 70-second animation, which captures key elements of the steel band art form, is the work of motion designer Mick Seegobin. The list of musicians in the Google post was updated later in the day to include Josanne Francis, Jonathan Castro and Luke Walker.

Animation highlights include a truck coming down from the hills of Laventille, pan making by sinking and grooving the steel drum, then pan setting and playing of the final product. The Panyard, a panside on the street by truck, with vendors, masquerades in the background on the sidewalk, a steel orchestra on the stage at the “Big Yard” in Queen’s Park Savannah, positioned between the grandstand and the [now-defunct]

North stand – also incorporated.

Google provided its data summary for the Doodle, titled Celebrating Steelpan, as follows:

Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Trinidad and Tobago-based artist Nicholas Huggins, celebrates the steelpan, a metal percussion instrument created and influenced by Trinbagonians. It is the only acoustic instrument invented in the 20th century, but its origins date back to the 18th century. It was a staple during Carnival and Canboulay, the annual harvest festivals celebrated in Trinidad, and is still used in contemporary music. On this day in 1951, the Trinidad All Steel Pan Percussion Orchestra (TASPO) performed at the Festival of Britain, introducing the world to the steel pan and a new genre of music.

When enslaved Africans were brought to Trinidad by colonialists in the 17th century, they brought with them their African heritage and traditions of rhythmic drumming. When slavery was abolished between 1834 and 1838, Trinidadians took part in the carnival celebrations with their drums. However, in 1877 government officials banned their drumming, fearing that the drumming would be used to send messages that would incite rebellion. In protest of this ban, musicians began banging tuned bamboo tubes on the floor as an alternative to mimic the sound of their drums. These ensembles were called Tamboo Bamboo Bands.

Another ban came in 1930 when rival Tamboo Bamboo bands caused riots during carnivals and other street festivals. These bands then looked for a new alternative to carry their rhythm: metal objects such as car parts, paint pots, trash cans, cookie jars and so the idea of ​​the pan was born.

During World War II, the carnival was banned for safety reasons, and musicians began experimenting with the unique instrument to improve sound quality. Over time, dents were hammered into the surface of these objects, playing different tones depending on their size, position, and shape. In 1948, after the war ended, musicians switched to using the 55-gallon oil drums discarded by oil refineries. In addition to changing the shape of the drum’s surface, they found that changing the length of the drum allowed full scales from bass to soprano. This formed the basis for the modern version of the pan. The steelpan grew and evolved into a legitimate instrument through pioneers and innovators such as Winston “Spree” Simon, Ellie Mannette, Anthony Williams and Bertie Marshall. Many of their innovations and techniques are still used today.

The steelpan is now the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago and a source of great pride and true resilience among its citizens. Steelpans are now enjoyed in concerts such as the Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center and more. Whether in Britain or Japan, Senegal or the United States, the steelpan is an internationally recognized instrument that reminds listeners of its island origins.


Guest artist Q&A with Nicholas Huggins and Etienne Charles

Today’s Doodle was illustrated by Trinidad and Tobago-based guest artist Nicholas Huggins and composed by Miami-based musician Etienne Charles. Below they share their thoughts behind the creation of this doodle:

Q. Why was this topic important to you personally?

Nicholas: The steel pan is the national instrument of Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) and was actually invented here. It’s an instrument born of resistance and rebellion and a true symbol of the people of T&T. At that time, among other things, African percussion was banned, from which the steel pan developed. The fact that such a sweet tune can be extracted from industrial oil drums should be appreciated. The Steel Pan is also closely linked to our national Mardi Gras celebrations and is therefore a great source of national pride.


Etienne: For many reasons. Pan is a big part of my musical development, I grew up in Phase II’s Panyard aka The Village. I embrace every opportunity to bring pan and steel band culture to a global stage.

Q. What were your first thoughts when you were approached to work on this Doodle?

Nicholas: When I was first approached about tackling such a culturally significant topic for this Doodle, I was a bit nervous because I wanted the story being told to be one that Trinbagonians worldwide would be proud of. I was also very excited because I love creating art that showcases Trinidad and Tobago and this doodle will allow my country to be featured on one of the biggest stages online.


Etienne: First thoughts were to contain my excitement of working on the music with Boogsie, Nick, Angelica and the whole Google team. Then it was a question of finding a process. Luckily I had just completed a global steel band project, but this was a co-composition with Boogsie and I, so he took ideas into a phone and sent them to me. From there I added my part to do the compliment and arranged the whole piece.

Q. Did you take any specific inspiration for this Doodle?

Nicholas: I drew inspiration from the early innovators behind the history of the steel pan. Without them there would be no Pan and the landscape of Trinidad & Tobago, and indeed the whole world, would look very different. These early Pan Men like Winston Spree Simon and Ellie Mannette are inspirational to any Trinbagonian.


Etienne: I got inspired when I was out with a steel band for the first time and heard the full sound of the band and Boogsie’s music for the first time.

Q. What message do you hope to get from your Doodle?

Nicholas: I hope that people can take away the hard work and creativity of the people of Trinidad & Tobago. We are a small country on the world stage, but the fact that we have given the world such a beautiful instrument deserves the highest recognition.


Etienne: I want people to feel the magic in the steel pan. An instrument born out of the resistance of Afro-Trinidadians. A symbol of community, artistic excellence and scientific innovation. Hopefully this tends to hear the Pan at her birthplace and feel the energy emanating from her. It really is like nothing else.

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