From Skin Drums to Innovation! Panorama Part 1

'Panman from Silver Stars band'

We at Cultural Voice love to hear good Caribbean rythms and were delighted to be party to the finals of Panorama 2012 in Port of Spain Trinidad. The palpable energy of the patrons supporting the bands was engaging. Fans followed favourite bands from point of entry on one side of the Queens Park Savannah to their departure, truly embracing the participation of all in this experience. To share this experience with you we thought it fitting to do a bit of google research on the development of Panorama. In this first blog on Panorama we share our findings with you... 

Although Panorama was officially launched in 1963 by the government of Trinidad and Tobago and the National Association of Trinidad and Tobago Steelbandsmen (NATTS), the origins date centries before. In the 19th Century, Carnival celebrations were primarily linked to the beating of skin drums. However, with the imposition of a ban on drum beating imposed in 1884 players turned to bamboo to produce sounds, leading to the proliferation of Tamboo Bamboo bands. This flurished in Carnivals until the 1930s.

Members of the Pan Group Silver Stars
 getting ready to cross the Savannah's stage"

In 1935, it is recorded that Gonzales (Port-of-Spain) Tamboo Bamboo Band took to the streets of carnival with a 'bass can' and it instantly became a hit. After this aspiring 'metal can' players all over Trinidad began crafting the bottoms of any metal containers (pans) that they could find, by pounding and partitioning the flat ends with hammers and steel punches to create different sounds. More info on the history of pan development.

'Silver Stars, a Large Steelband group
placed 3rd in the 2012 Competition'

The four main steelband categories in the Panorama competition:

  • Large Conventional Steelbands - minimum of 95 and a maximum of 120 players.
  • Medium Conventional Steelbands - minimum of 60 and a maximum of 90 players.
  • Small Conventional Steelbands - minimum of 35 and a maximum of 55 players.
  • Single Pan Bands - minimum of 25 and a maximum of 45 players.

Innovator: Elliott Mannette

"Pan as an item was not invented by any person. It evolved and there are a number of people, including myself, who advanced it through certain stages of that evolution.” (Elliott Mannette, October 25, 2000)

Elliott Mannette, a legend in the world of pan in Trinidad and Tobago was an innovator. He was the first tuner to use a 55-gallon oil drum for crafting pans. His tenor design included 29 notes that transcended four octaves and encompassed the complete chromatic scale, from B in the first octave
to E in the fourth octave. This tenor design, characterized by an F# in the center of the pan, became a standard that was used by many bands throughout the country, until the late 1960s. His double-second design, developed in the late 1950s, withstood the test of time to remain a standard throughout the country into the 21st century. More information on Elliott Mannette



  1. Pan ...a positive Caribbean unifer. Positive energy is never lost. overflow from the people for the people.

  2. I was waiting to hear more on the personal experience of Panorama...please enlighten us as soon as...

  3. hope you're not too dissapointed..:) but don't worry there will be a prt 2 or even prt 3 to come looking at different aspects and hopefully there i'll capture a bit more of the spirit! tnx for tuning in though! Have you been to Panorama? would love to have your take on it if you have!


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