Steelpan highlighted on Google Doodle Tuesday


Google, the multinational company that focuses on search engine technology, highlighted the steel pan, the national musical instrument of Trinidad and Tobago, on Tuesday.

Its “Google Doodle Tuesday” coincided with the 71st anniversary of the Trinidad All-Steel Pan Percussion Orchestra’s (TASPO) performance at the Festival of Britain, which introduced the steelpan and a new music genre to the world.

The Doodle was illustrated by Trinidadian artist Nicholas Huggins.

“The fact that such a sweet tune can be extracted from industrial oil drums is something that should be cherished. The steel pan is also closely associated with our national Carnival celebrations, and therefore is a great source of national pride, Huggins said.

When enslaved Africans were brought to Trinidad in the 1700’s, they brought over their African heritage and traditions of rhythmic drumming with them.

Slavery was abolished in 1833, after which former slaves served an “apprenticeship” period which ended on August 1, 1838 with full emancipation, and they joined in on Carnival festivities with their drums.

However, in 1877, government officials banned their drumming, Google stated, because they feared that it would be used to send messages that would inspire rebellion. In protest of this ban, musicians started to pound tuned bamboo tubes on the ground as alternatives to mimic the sound of their drums. These ensembles were called Tamboo Bamboo bands.


Google pointed out that another ban came in 1930, when rival Tamboo Bamboo bands cause disturbances during Carnival and other street festivals. These bands then looked to a new alternative to carry their rhythm: metal objects such as car parts, paint pots, dustbins, biscuit tins and thus the idea of the pan was born.

The steelpan is the only acoustic musical instrument invented in the 20th century, Google noted.