This month, Borough Belles enjoyed our own Caribbean carnival with the Steelpan Agency.
Shareen brought the full range of steelpan instruments in her Tardis-like van and the Bosco Centre was filled with the cheerful sound for the rest of the evening.
After new president Alison welcomed everyone, Shareen started with giving us a brief history of steelpans, which originated in Trinidad and Tobago in the 1930s. Tamboo bamboo drums evolved into melodic instruments made from recycled bins and other metal by resourceful musicians. The Saturday of Notting Hill Carnival is a major date in the calendar for London’s steel bands, when competitions take place.
While a tropical storm brewed outside, we got more in the mood with some tasty rum punch and listened to Shareen demonstrate playing some traditional calypso music and Bob Marley.
Then it was time for the Belles to have a go! The steel band is divided into sections: the tenors are at the front and play the melody, and the double seconds, double guitar and bass pans form the background. The pans are struck with wooden sticks tipped with rubber and each pan can play every note in an octave.
We gradually learned some of Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major, and once we’d mastered that, we moved into the 21st century and tried Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and Emeli Sandé’s Next To Me. All together, the result was very impressive and we all had a fantastic night!