As you may know my musical training began in elementary school. During that time there was little to no representation of Black music heard routinely on the radio. But on the weekend Friday to Sunday, a local radio station played Caribbean music. In this manner I was able to learn the songs and rhythms of Calypsonians such as the Mighty Sparrow and to hear Steel Pan music.
When I was conducting research in Africa I came across a xylophone of the Chopi people that used graduated tin cans as resonators instead of gourds. The Bass xylophone player used four or five 55 gallon oil vats with different strips of wood to achieve the bass tones. These xylophones were the instruments used in the mines of South Africa by the musicians to entertain themselves. The musical phrasing is similar to the music played by the steel band men in Trinidad.
I wrote the booklet Steel Bands of New York in which I interviewed various steel band personalities. The articles are being reprinted by Panonthenet: