THE MODERN STEELBAND
The early development of the steelband took place in the decades of the 1930 and 1940s. The steel pan was first played strung around the neck of the performer and is often referred to as a Traditional Steelband or 'Pan-Round-De-Neck.' Carrying the steelpan in this manner restricted the repertoire of the band to the lighter weighted instruments.
The growing need for mobility gave rise to the development of the conventional steelband with its wheeled, and sometimes canopied carriages, which were pushed by ardent supporters. These carriages are still used today by conventional bands which may number up to 120 musicians or panmen. Some bands however, have resorted to having their carraiges propelled by heavy duty vehicles.
The progression of the size of the modern steelband and the methods used to transport them has been attained through the inspiration and combined efforts of its innovators, and those who support and direct the artform, such as the fabricators, musicians (panmen and panwomen), pan tuners, musical arrangers, organizing bodies and sponsors - who make up the pan movement or industry. This combination of effort and devotion defines the present versatility of the steel pan in the ensemble of the modern steelband.
ORGANIZATION OF A STEELBAND
A typical steelband is normally led by a captain who, in addition to being an experienced player, has well-developed musical insight and ability. A large band may also have section leaders whose job is to support the captain by passing on his knowledge and skill to the other members of the orchestra.
MUSICAL ARRANGEMENT AND CONDUCT
A typical steelband musical orchestra can reproduce melodies from various genres of music. Once a composition or song has been written or selected for use by the steelband, the musical arrangement begins. This musical arrangement involves reproducing the melody of the chosen piece of music by adapting it to the interplay of the various sections of the steel orchestra.
In the case of the steelpan, there are musical arrangers, whose task is to determine the range of sound from the chosen composition. A steel orchestra may also have a musical conductor, whose task it is to harmonize the individual characteristics of each instrument from the musical score.