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Steel Drum Note Layout and Function

Maybe the best place to start is to describe the Steel Drum Orchestral Family of instruments. In any orchestra the various groups or families of instruments are grouped together to create voice sections. The Horns, Woodwinds, Strings and Percussion sections are examples. Each section contains instruments that play in various parts of the musical scale from the very high notes (soprano) to the very low notes (bass).

The Steel Drum family of instruments mirrors the above description. The Lead Pan plays the highest notes, The Double Seconds play the next lower and so on. The Steel Drum family consists of the following basic instruments, musical functions and vocal choir relationships: (CLICK ON THE INSTRUMENT ICON'S TO SHOW A PRINTABLE NOTE LAYOUT AND MUSICAL RANGE FOR EACH SET.)

p1cph1-t.jpgLEAD                             Melody                                   Soprano

p2cph1.jpgDOUBLE SECONDS       Contra Melody, Harmony         Alto

dble-guitar-t.jpgDOUBLE GUITARS       Rhythm/Chords                       Tenor

 cello-pans.jpgTRIPLE CELLOS           Rhythm/Chords Low                Tenor

 tenor-bass-t.jpgTENOR BASS               Bass/Rhythm                          Baritone 

six-bass-t.jpgSIX BASS                    Bass Line                                Bass

You can see that the individual instrument sets have inherited names corresponding to several families of instruments and choir voices according to their function in the steel band.