Scott, B. (2021). A Journey Towards Standardization: Preserving the Art of Building and Tuning the Steelpan in Trinidad and Tobago. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.2.322
The steelpan is a unique twelve-tone, equal tempered, acoustic instrument invented in the 20th century in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The twin-island of Trinidad and Tobago is known as the land of oil and music and is the home to some of the greatest steelpan innovators in the world. This research paper aims to document and preserve the legacy of practicing master steelpan builders and tuners, and their efforts to pass on their knowledge to the younger generation. My research examines the individual journeys that these craftsmen took towards becoming steelpan manufacturers, including their incorporation of advanced technology and, their efforts to market and brand the steelpan. It also covers the various manufacturing programs aimed at preserving the art of building and tuning of the steelpan, and the independent organizations affiliated with the mass manufacturing of the steelpan in Trinidad. The steelpan has evolved from recycled metallic objects into one of the most virtuosic musical instruments capable of performing music of any genre. Steelpan builders and tuners spend years perfecting the instrument's distinct sonority and are responsible for their overall development. In the last few years, Trinidad and Tobago has lost some of its most innovative pioneers in the steelpan manufacturing industry such as Neville Jules, Denzil "Dimes" Fernandez, Jomo Wathuse, and Clifford Alfred, born between 1927 and 1946, who died in 2020. In addition to a history and analysis of the development of steelpan engineering, and extensive interviews with steelpan builders and tuners from several generations, I provide lists of steelpan builders and tuners, manufacturing workshops, pan-stick businesses in Trinidad, and offer a timeline of the steelpan, including its inventions and innovations created since the late 1930s.