Steelpan Musical Instrument in Trinidad History and Sound Honored by Google Doodle

Today, July 26, Google Doodle is celebrating a musical journey. The search engine celebrates the steelpan, an acoustic musical instrument made of 55-gallon steel drums illustrated by Trinidad and Tobago-based artist Nicholas Huggins.

According to Google’s Doodle Archive, the steelpan was developed in the 20th century and originated in the Caribbean islands in the 1930s. However, its origins date back to the 1700s.

Steelpan musical instrument in the history of Trinidad, the sound is honored by Google Doodle

The instrument was used during Carnival and Canboulay, the annual harvest festivals celebrated in Trinidad and it is still used in contemporary music.

Doodle celebrates his journey today because on July 26, 1951, the Trinidad All-Steel Pan Percussion Orchestra (TASPO) introduced a new musical genre to the world while presenting steelpan at the Festival of Britain.

History of Steel Pan

In the 1700s, when enslaved Africans were brought to Trinidad in the West Indies by colonialists, they also brought their heritage and drumming traditions with them.

According to Google’s Art and Culter, after the abolition of slavery in 1834, Trinidadians participated in Trinidad carnival celebrations with their drums.

However, performances of music of African origin have been targeted by restrictive government bills, sparking protests and demonstrations. According to the search engine, these protests have facilitated the development of new instruments.

It was improvised using scrap metal, metal containers, trash cans and bamboo stamping tubes. The first instrument that developed in the evolution of Steelpan was Tamboo Bamboo.

These bamboo strips are made from pieces of bamboo cut to different lengths so that different pitches can be achieved, and now they are widely accepted and used as precursors to modern steel strips.

According to Culture Mix, these instruments were first seen on BBC television in June 1950, when dancers from Trinidad and the Caribbean performed with a steel band on its television show, Bal Creole.

And with this exhibition, in 1951, TASPO was invited to perform on the Southbank in London as part of the “Festival of Britain”. It was the first time that the British public came into direct contact with the instrument.


TASPO was formed for the ‘Festival of Britain’ in 1951. It was the first steel band to use recycled instruments such as oil drums.

According to Culture Mix, TASPO was a group of 12 top pan musicians.

These musicians were selected from 70 Trinidad Steel bands, including Ellie Mannette of ‘Invaders’, Sterling Betancourt of ‘Crossfire’, Philmore ‘Boots’ Davidson of ‘Syncopators’, Belgrave Bonaparte of ‘Southern Symphony’ and Andrew ‘Pan’ De Labastide de ‘Hill 60 and many more.

According to Google records, the Steelpan is now a national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago and is a true source of resilience for its citizens. This instrument is now also seen in concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall and among others.

Whether in Japan, the UK or any other country, Steelpan is now an internationally recognized instrument around the world.

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