Tag Archives: world music

Transported to the Caribbean

Prep students and staff were transported to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago in assembly on Friday when Homerton’s steel pan band came to visit. Absolute Pandemonium was formed in the 1980s and is a student run band which plays regularly for schools as well as May Balls and other engagements.

Traditionally, steel pans were made from the oil drums left behind by the US army after the 2nd World War. They come in all sizes – the shallower the pan the higher the pitch. After heating to a high temperature, the top is hammered to produce indentations which give pitched notes when struck with rubber tipped sticks.


After performing in assembly, including a foot tapping arrangement of Glenn Miller’s ‘In the Mood’, the band ran a workshop for anyone who wanted to get their hands on a steel pan. All sorts of latent talent was discovered as the Homerton students taught ours to play.

You can see some action packed photos from the workshop below:img_0803










Encounters with Indonesian music

Year 7 were put through their paces this week when they learnt how to play traditional Indonesian music in a workshop at Cambridge University Music Faculty. The gamelan, as it is called, refers to the whole group of instruments, rather like our word ‘orchestra’. Gamelan comprises a range of different sized gongs, metallophones and drums; the latter are played with the hands whilst the gongs and metallophones are struck with mallets.
Much of the music is based on pentatonic scales and is learned orally rather than being notated. This meant our Year 7 students had to remember the patterns of notes they were taught and listen to everyone else in the group really carefully in order to stay in time.
Here are a few photos and clips of them in action:






Steel Pan Workshop

Year 8 had a fantastic time at Homerton learning how to play the steel pans. They first enjoyed a demo from the college steel band, ‘Absolute Pandemium’ and you can watch a clip here:

They were then put through their paces by the band’s dynamic teacher, Jane. They had to learn everything by rote, manage syncopated rhythms and navigate the pans with what seems to us their random ordering of notes.

Those below are newly manufactured pans but the original ones were made out of old oil drums and cut off in different lengths to give tenor, guitar, cello and bass pans.







You can watch Year 8 in action below:

Here are a few shots of them, deep in concentration:

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