Cool Stuff Being Made: Solomon Steelpans

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Now this is cool stuff being made in the sense of, well, cool: Steelpans, or metal drums, hammered into tuned instruments. You’ll recognize them as producing the sound of the Caribbean, but much more, as well.

This week’s “Cool Stuff Being Made” video takes us to the Pittsburgh site of Solomon Steelpan. The company’s website reports the facts:

Solomon Steelpan is the leading supplier of quality steelpans and accessories. For over twenty years exciting breakthroughs in steelpan making such as The GroovelessTM Method and The synchronized Note Placement design has made it possible for us to produce steelpans with precision, attentions to detail and a purity of sound unheard of until now.

Janera Solomon, listed as consultant but a fine musician in her own right, serves as tour guide through the factory, showing out a 55-gallon barrel can be transformed into a sophisticated percussion instrument. A lead steelpan has 32 notes, pounded out precisely into the metal, but there are many different scales and tones in the steel drum family.

Ms. Solomon notes that the drums are favored for classical music and jazz, as well as calypso. We even see a performance. Our thanks again to the Pennsylvania Cable Network for this nice combination of manufacturing and culture.

(And did you know one of the country’s leading steel drum bands is at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota?)

To watch the Cool Stuff Being Made video, please click here.

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