Under the guidance of Eric Rollnick, and with instruments on loan from the Mango Groove Steel Drum Band, ConVal band students started to learn the intricacies of steel drum music in a one-day workshop.
Without ever having played steel drums, the band members picked up three different songs within less than two hours and performed for their fellow students in the cafeteria during all three lunches.
From an instrumental point of view, a steel drum is actually not a drum but a tuned gong that is made from the bottom end and partial sidewall of a metal barrel.
The end surface is hammered into a concave shape, and several areas are outlined by acoustically important chiseled grooves. The drum is then heated and tempered. So-called “bosses,” or domes, are hammered into the outlined areas.
The depth, curvature, and size of each boss determine its pitch. Drums are commonly made in four sizes, from bass to treble, called boom, cellopan, guitar pan, and ping pong. The drums are struck with rubber-tipped hammers.
Steel drums originated in the West Indies and are played in ensembles, or steel bands, of about 4 to up to 100 performers.
Mango Groove is an authentic 5-piece steel drum band in New Hampshire that specializes in the authentic Caribbean and American musical styles that encompass Soul-Calypso (Soca), reggae, Motown, jazz, pop, Afro-Cuban, and Latin genres. Rollnick and his band have been playing since 1994 and was voted “New Hampshire’s Best Steel Band” by New Hampshire Magazine.