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Terry Joseph 
Raffique Shah 
Denis Solomon 
Bukka Rennie 
Selwyn Cudjoe 

International Conference on
the Science and Technology of the Steelpan

October 18, 2000
By Terry Joseph

Sticks in focus at pan talks

DAY TWO of the First International Conference on the Science and Technology of the Steelpan (ICSTS) addressed some of the ancillary components of the orchestra, paid tribute to master-tuner Bertie Marshall, and saw the work of Switzerland’s Felix Rohner.

The conference, which enters its third and final day today, is being held at Crowne Plaza in Port of Spain and was convened by Dr Anthony Achong and a team of professional colleagues from the University of the West Indies, including Dr Derek Gay.

It is co-sponsored by the National Institute for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (Niherst) and Pan Trinbago.

Apart from Achong, Dr Derek Gay, Fasil Muddeen and Dr Brian Copeland of UWI, yesterday’s list of presenters included Prof Thomas Rossing, Head of the Physics Department of Northern Illinois University; Uwe J. Hansen, Dept of Physics, Indiana State University; and Felix Rohner of Panart in Switzerland, who, during his presentation, complained about media coverage.

Yesterday’s session opened with Achong’s presentation on the pan stick, its properties and impact. His investigation included explanations of the static and dynamic properties of the rubber material used at the point of contact, the effects of arm action during impact and effects of temperature on the stick.

Achong also narrated a special paper on a lifetime of work by Marshall, hailed as one of the greatest pan tuners in the instrument’s history.

Later, he looked at a band’s rhythm section, also called The Engine Room, as part of an interactive talk session.

Gay dealt with steel drum specifications, detailing some of the progress made by investigators into the metallurgy and manufacture. He also looked at the various drum types that are currently available to the steelpan industry and shared specifications and regulations concerning that aspect of the steelpan science.

Panart’s Rohner, assisted by Sabina Scharer of Panart in Switzerland, held workshops to demonstrate his ping, pang and peng range of pans, inviting participants to join in the demonstrations. Rohner spoke of new materials being experimented with by Panart’s engineers and tuners.

Scharer explained the process of hardening steel by nitriding, a process known for more than 80 years, but only just being used in pan manufacture.

Panart also showed their new rawform, which seeks to replace the traditional 55-gallon drum as feedstock for pan tuners and a systematical tuning process for steelpans.

The conference ends today, but not before discussion on note dynamics, note geometries and spectra, and the steelpan orchestra in the morning session.

The post-lunch period will see a number of workshops and a panel discussion will close the evening at 4 p.m.

Panch plays sixth at tonight’s semis

LOCAL pan fans remain nervous about the outcome of tonight’s semi-final round (the second of two such events), as current leader, Panch 2000, makes its appearance and seeks to hold on to its massive lead at the end of the preliminaries.

Panch, a relatively new band out of Switzerland, who beat local joint-champion Exodus into second place and by a huge 18-point lead, will come up against the Defence Force Steelband.

The playing positions will stretch the excitement, as Defence Force plays in position two, while the other major attention-getter at preliminary level, Northern Illinois University steelband, plays in the penultimate position.

Apart from Panch and Northern Illinois, the other foreign band listed is the youthful CASYM out of New York.

Tonight’s show promises to be shorter than the seven-hour marathons that took place last Thursday and Friday nights, after rain forced postponement of Wednesday night’s event and the condensation of three nights into two.

The controversial test-piece, originally programmed for performance at the semi-final stage, has since been eliminated from this round, reducing the number of tunes to be played by the eight bands to 16.

But there is the addition of two single pan bands, which could push closing time to midnight or beyond.

After the tally from the two nights of semi-finals come in, eight bands will be selected to advance to the orchestra final on Saturday night.

Showtime is 8 p.m.

Foreign bands cry foul

TWO visiting steel orchestras, in Trinidad for the current World Steelband Music Festival, say a breakdown in arrangements made by the festival committee has put them at a serious disadvantage, which could affect the rest of their performances.

At the source of their problems are rehearsal spaces at the Cascadia Hotel (the official festival hotel) and the collapse of other arrangements that have left players completely frustrated.

An official of a visiting band has had a tumbler full of water thrown at her from an upper floor of the hotel by an irate guest.

On Monday night, while the French band, Calypsociation, was in the middle of a rehearsal in the Cascadia ballroom, security officials switched off their electrical power.

And yesterday, the band’s players and officials were asked to walk down to St Ann’s Hospital to pick up their bus, after drivers complained of the perilous road to the hotel.

A kind driver eventually drove up the narrow and winding St Ann’s Road to meet them.

However, the players were left without lunch and forced to resort to fast food.

William Jones, co-director of the Caribbean American Sports and Cultural Youth Movement (CASYM), reported similar difficulties.

Jones said the hotel’s security guards also stopped his band’s rehearsals on Monday night, after earlier assurances that such a thing would not happen.

The guards, Jones said, were threatened with dismissal, if they failed to get the band, which largely comprises children, to stop playing.

“When we came here we were told we would be allowed to use the facility for rehearsals,” Jones said. “Suddenly, after being shifted from one location to another, they have now imposed a 9 p.m. curfew.”

But Cascadia officials yesterday argued it was CASYM that was being unreasonable.

Speaking to the Daily Express, Cascadia general manager Peter Pena said: “I’m sure you will appreciate that we can’t offer unlimited rehearsal time if other guests are complaining. It is because of the guest complaints we have had to put a limit of 9 p.m. There is no restriction on daylight rehearsals. They can practise from 8 a.m. I don’t think we’re being unreasonable.

“We have a case in point, a letter from a guest who was here from St Maarten, for the Lupus Conference,” Pena said. “The lady wrote us a letter saying she did not enjoy her stay because of six consecutive nights of noise into the late hours, so I could not get my required rest. As much as we love having the bands here, we also have our guests’ interests to protect. We did not stop them from playing all night, until we began to receive complaints.”

The End

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